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CITIES 1938 


MAN 1944 


LIFE 1951 




First published in Great Britain, 1952, by 

Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd. 

7 John Street, Bloomsbury, London, W.C.i 


With this book the series on which I began work in 1930 comes to a 

In these volumes I have sought to deal in a unified way with mar^s 
nature, his work, and his life-dramas, as revealed in the development 
of contemporary Western civilization. By intention, these books outline 
a philosophy, demonstrate a method of synthesis, and project further a 
new pattern of life that has, for at least a century, been in process of 
emergence. Though I reserved for The Conduct of Life — and my own 
further maturity — a discussion of the final problems of man^s nature, 
destiny, and purpose, the present volume, so far from being an epi- 
logue, is in fact a preface to the earlier books. While each volume 
stands alone, they modify each other; and the full import of any one 
cannot be grasped without an understanding of the other three. 

During the period covered by the writing of these books grave changes 
for the worse have taken place throughout the world. But if the evils 
that now threaten mankind are more appalling than ever before, the 
reward for facing them and overcoming them promises also to be 
greater. When the lethal contents of Pandorals box were released, the 
Gods, taking pity on man, left him with one gift that would enable him 
to survive every natural plague or human mischief: Hope. Despite 
the shocks and sorrows of the last two decades, Hope abides and 
‘‘maketh not ashamed'' Even if the present crisis continues for another 
generation, even if it brings forth a succession of catastrophes, it is 
already time to prepare for the renewal of life. To that end these four 
books have, from the beginning, been dedicated. 

L. M. 

Amenia, New York 
Spring, 1951 



1: The Promise of Our Age 3 

2: Canvass of Possibilities 5 

3: Diagnosis of Our Times 11 

4: Alternatives to Catastrophe 18 


1: Postulates of Synthesis 22 

2; The Nature of Man 25 

3: The Background of Life 27 

4: Economy of the Superfluous 34 

5: Social Discovery and Fabrication 36 

6: The Miracle of Language 39 

7: The Interpretation of Dreams 45 

8: Man as Interpreter 51 


1: On the Use of Unanswerable Questions 58 

2: The Mythologies of Man 62 

3: The Emergence of the Divine 66 

4: Eternity, Sex and Death 76 

5: Sacrifice and Detachment 82 

6: Religion’s Positive Functions 86 


1 : The Birth of the Person 92 

2: The Universal Mask 94 

3: The Social Process of Conversion 100 




4: Bias Against the Personal 107 

5: Next Development of Religion 112 

6: The Universal Commitment 118 


1 : Man’s Will to Form 121 

2: Needs and Values 125 

3: The Case for Purpose 130 

4: The Nature of Design 134 

5: The Organic Hierarchy 140 

6: The Control of Quantity 144 


1 : “Modern Man Can Do No Wrong” 148 

2: Conditions for Moral Renewal 152 

3: The Challenge of Evil 156 

4: The Salt of Life 160 

5: Chronometricals and Horologicals 165 

6: Repentance and Re-affirmation 170 


1 : The Fallacy of Systems 175 

2 : The Reason for Balance 180 

3: Types and Temperaments 192 

4: The Whole Man as Ideal Type 196 

5: The Incarnation of Balance 205 


1: The Optimism of Pathology 216 

2: Doctrine of the Whole 223 

3: On Reaching a Singular Point 226 

4: An Organic Syncretism 232 

5: Eutopianism and Universalism 235 

6: The New Mutation 240 



1 : Preparation for Development 244 

2: The Inner Eye and Voice 252 

3: Time for Living 257 

4: The Great Good Place 262 

5; The Need for Two Lives 265 

6: Stripping for Action 268 

7 : Re-union with the Group 274 

8: Discipline for Daily Life 281 

9 : Love and Integration 284 

10: The Renewal of Life 288 



INDEX 319 





The age that we live in threatens worldwide catastrophe; but it like- 
wise holds forth unexpected hope and unexampled promise. Ours is 
no time for faint-hearted men. No matter how rugged the obstacles 
that confront us, we must push on, like Bunyan’s Pilgrim, not heeding 
the Worldly Wisemen who are torpid to the danger and fearful of the 
promise. If we do not sink into the Slough of Despond, we may yet 
find our way to the Delectable Mountains and to that fair land where 
the sun shines night and day. The shadows that now fall across our 
path measure the height we have still to climb. 

Perhaps never before have the peoples of the world been so close 
to losing the very core of their humanity; for of what use are cosmic 
energies, if they are handled by disoriented and demoralized men? 
But the very threat of general disintegration has also increased the 
possibility for a rapid and radical improvement in the condition of 
man. The most generous dreams of the past have now become imme- 
diate practical necessities: a worldwide co-operation of peoples, a 
more just distribution of all the goods of life; the use of knowledge 
and energy for the service of life, and the use of life itself for the ex- 
tension of the human spirit to provinces where human values and pur- 
poses could not heretofore penetrate. If we awaken in time to over- 
come the automatisms and irrational compulsions that are now push- 
ing the nations toward destruction, we shall create a universal com- 
munity. Even if we awaken only belatedly, the fresh insight and the 
new philosophy that might have saved us in the first place will be 
needed to carry us through the dark days ahead. 

The renewal of life is the burden and challenge of our time: its 
urgency lightens its risks and its difficulties. For the first time in his- 
tory, the tribes and nations have the means of entering into an active 
partnership, as wide and unrestricted as the planet itself. Universal 



fellowship, which the higher religions conceived for many millenni- 
ums as mankind’s destiny, now has become technically feasible as 
well as ideally conceivable: to seal that promise with acts of political 
and economic co-operation on a worldwide scale has likewise become 
a practical imperative. 

Nothing short of such a transformation will keep the human race 
from sliding back still further into barbarism: a barbarism whose 
powers of destruction have been multiplied by the very scientific knowl- 
edge that most modern thinkers, up to our own age, believed a sure 
guarantee of the continued advance of civilization. The rational con- 
duct of life, plainly, demands something far different from the auto- 
matic extension of science and invention. 

The age of the machine is already over. We cannot save our cun- 
ning inventions and our complicated apparatus of scientific research 
unless we save man; and when we do so, the human person, not the 
machine, will dominate the scene. The New World Symphony of ex- 
ploration and conquest, and the Ballet Mecanique of modern indus- 
trialism, have both been performed to the point of exhaustion. The 
next number on the program will be scored for a full orchestra and 
a multitude of human voices, like Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony: a 
mass for the dead, a hymn for the living, a paean to the unborn: the 
Oratorio of One World and of a new man capable of being at home 
in that world. 

For each of us, the moment of reorientation and renewal has come. 
There is no mechanical device capable of effecting this transformation 
in society: it must first take place in the minds and hearts of individ- 
ual men, who have the courage to re-educate themselves to the realities 
of the present human situation, and, step by step, take command of it. 
Up to the limits of his capacities and insights, each one of us must 
undertake his self-examination, re-appraise his standards and values, 
alter his attitudes and expectations, and re-direct his interest. That 
hour will demand a capacity for humility and sacrifice difficult under 
any circumstances; but particularly difiicult to a generation for whom 
these words awaken only contempt or self-justifying resistance. Hence 
the main purpose of this book is to assist in the necessary self-appraisal, 
as the first means toward getting ready for playing a part in the new 
drama of life. 

If man were “just an animal” he would never have found that fact 
out. If he were “just a machine” he could never have invented ma- 
chines. If his existence were in fact purposeless, he might have sur- 



vived without having a conscious purpose of his own; but he would 
never have been concerned with his own further development; and 
he would not have found it impossible to fulfill his animal needs 
without finding a place for them in some wider plan of life which 
transforms biological need into social ritual and social ritual into sig- 
nificant forms of communal and personal drama. For man existence is 
a continued process of self -fabrication and self-transcendence. Today, 
this act of self-understanding is the fiirst step toward renewal: for each 
of us has a new part to master, a new role to enact, a new personality 
to shape, and new potentialities of life to fulfill. 

The heroes of the old drama, proud, self-willed, formidable men, 
aggressive in action, isolationist in thought, will become the clowns 
and villains in the new; and those who were once cast for supernumer- 
ary parts will find themselves, because of their capacity for mutual 
aid, in the very center of the stage. For the renewal of life is the new 
drama of life. The main task of our time is to turn man himself, now 
a helpless mechanical puppet, into a wakeful and willing creator. 


The potentialities of the present age have often been childishly mis- 
conceived. Too readily, we extol our mistakes and miscarriages, and 
overlook our latent virtues. That is why it is important, at the begin- 
ning, to make a fresh tally of the new conditions that confront us and 
the new paths of development that lie ahead. 

First of all, we must reject the popular Baconian notion that the 
‘‘advancement of learning” and the progress of mechanical inven- 
tions will automatically bring about the improvement of man’s estate, 
if man’s own welfare and self-realization are included in that hope. 
The fact is that the inventions the twentieth century once innocently 
boasted, in Mr H. G. Weils’ highly accurate “Anticipations,” have 
proved, like the magical promises in a fairy tale, to have an imex- 
pectedly wry or sinister outcome. The more godlike our powers have 
become, the more demonic our applications of this power have often 
turned out. At the beginning of this century. Dr Richard Bucke gave 
the approaching conquest of the air as one of the three changes that 
would transform mankind: he did not have the slightest foreboding 
that it might turn great cities into graveyards. 

We can no longer naively believe, then, that human improvement 
will follow directly from man’s conquest of nature: indeed, when that 



triumph is too thorough, when we remove too much of the forest cover, 
or extract too many elements from the soil, or activate too large a 
quantity of fissionable elements, it may have precisely the opposite 

‘"Knowledge comes but wisdom lingers.” The fact that physical 
scientists have penetrated the interior of the atom and have begun to 
explore the outer edges of astronomical space does not in itself prom- 
ise to better the general human condition, though it makes life more 
significant to astronomers and physicists. There is no hope for human 
salvation, or even mere relief from our present anxieties and obses- 
sions, in the fact that we can shoot rockets into the stratosphere and al- 
ready begin to dream of Magellan voyages around the solar system. 
Some of our mechanical inventions have been beneficent, many are 
trivial or life-harassing; but the only question is: What kind of culture 
and what manner of man do they tend to produce? Even an economy 
of abundance will not serve us if it is not directed toward the fulfill- 
ment of life: its utmost plenitude may only choke us or defile us, as 
similar wealth traditionally ruined so many great princes and em- 

Our blessings and our promises are actually of a quite different 
order than those proclaimed by the older prophets of mechanical 
progress. One can condense most of them into the simple proposition 
that man, during the last century, has extended the possibilities of full 
human development to every member of his species. Up to the present 
age, all the advances brought about by civilized societies have rested 
mainly on slavery and forced labor, upon people too fully committed 
to the day’s work ever to extract the spiritual benefit of their own ef- 
forts, too grossly exploited even to realize that alternatives might exist. 
Only small groups of people, aristocratic minorities, jealously guard- 
ing their privileges but rarely making full use of their advantages, 
have enjoyed the usufruct of civilization itself. 

But today, for the first time, the human race as a whole commands 
resources that have hitherto been perverted or restricted, partly be- 
cause of their original scarcity, for the benefit of a fortunate minor- 
ity: in a fashion never so true before, we live by helping one another, 
and we shall live better by helping each other to the utmost. Now, at 
least potentially, every person has a claim to the highest goods of 
life: sensibility, intelligence, feeling, insight, all that goes toward the 
development of the person are no longer the property of a single ruling 
group or a chosen nation. This equalized potentiality for life and for 



development is the true promise of democracy: a promise so vivid 
and so impelling that even those who now practice tyranny and com- 
pulsion in the most wanton fashion must nevertheless do so under the 
slogan of establishing a “people’s democracy.” 

Through five centuries of exploration and invention, Western man 
has opened up the globe and brought its peoples into direct contact 
with each other. Though the nineteenth century prophets of mechan- 
ical progress hoped for too much to come about automatically through 
the spread of the machine, it would be an equal error to underestimate 
these effects; for rapid flight and instantaneous communication and 
global commerce at least provide the technical facilities, hitherto 
lacking, for worldwide intercourse and co-operation. For the first time 
in history, man has achieved the basis for a unified world: the state 
foretold by Isaiah. In that unity, once it has been translated into daily 
practices, lies such an abundance of life as no commonwealth or 
empire, however powerful, ever possessed. But this transformation 
will be incomplete until it is directed primarily to the fulfillment of 
the human person: the desirable end-product is neither energy nor 
knowledge nor wealth but men. 

Originally, people conceived themselves as living in a wholly self- 
contained world, designed for their private purposes. In overcoming 
his illusions about this world, modern man, since Copernicus, often 
also lost interest in himself, and in purposes and ends that both cre- 
ated and directed, but also transcended himself. Though he explored, 
with increasing success, both astronomical space and molecular space, 
he lost sight of his inner world and tended to defame the special ca- 
pacities he exhibited: the capacity .for detached evaluation, for rational 
interpretation, for purposeful anticipations and significant dreams. 
Today, fortunately, modem man has returned, by way of positive 
science, to the very attributes of personality he thought a few centuries 
ago he had dismissed forever. 

Man finds himself involved in processes that reach beyond the de- 
velopment and fulfillment of his individual life, or even of mankind’s 
historic existence: processes to which his own existence adds a new 
dimension of meaning. Both the creative and the destructive forces, 
once widely dispersed throughout nature, are now concentrated in 
man: in the domain of meaning his culture has the same order of 
magnitude as the phenomena it interprets. For better or worse, man’s 
responsibilities, his anxieties, his potentialities, have all increased. 
Powers once crudely represented as angels, principalities, and thrones 



may yet, by man’s untrammeled inventiveness, be brought into exist- 
ence. Watching the birds soar through the air, man long dreamed of 
flight; observing the dream-images rising from his unconscious, mod- 
ern man will again shape a new self and a new environment, as dif- 
ferent from those of past cultures as Chartres Cathedral is from a dark 
empty cave. In this game, man is hut at the beginning of his devel- 

Up to now, men have not found it easy to throw off their tribal 
selves and work within a more imiversal mold. Perhaps men will never 
completely overcome their self-love, with its regressive particularities 
and partialities: constant reminders of the closed society, with its 
limited ‘‘consciousness of kind,” out of which wider associations and 
organizations eventually grew. But the proportion between self-love 
and mutual aid may he altered: only the other day, the mutual aid of 
the family was extended through unrra to hungry peoples on every 
continent. Today mankind is possibly on the brink of a large-scale 
reversal of the relation of the instinctual to the rational, of the tribal 
to the universal, of the habitual to the conscious, of closed to open 
forms of co-operation. Aided by the expansion of his technical facili- 
ties — ^but aided even more by deeper insight into the processes of 
human growth — ^the position of dominance for the primitive impulses 
and attitudes and subordination for the more highly developed ones 
may be reversed. The very ferocity with which men have sought to 
recover primitive and tribal ways — the return to “blood and soil,” to 
isolationism, to terrorism and compulsion in government — may actu- 
ally be a sign that their final breakup approaches. 

Fortimately, periods of extreme ^disruption are often favorable to 
a wider integration: it was in such a period that Hebraism, Hellenism, 
Zoroastrianism, Mithraism, and many other partial religious insights 
detached themselves from the societies that had brought them forth 
and united in the Christian myth, which gave them a wider province. 
As long as hope and faith are possible, we may reasonably assume 
that such a transformation now opens before us. Like most great 
changes, this one has already begun in a preparatory reorientation of 
concepts and ideas; and our new philosophy makes it possible to bring 
back into rational discourse and into the domain of significant ex- 
perience many of the insights of art and religion that were necessarily 
thrust to one side by the pragmatic ideology of the machine. In the 
course of this book, I shall examine some of these concepts and show 
how radically they affect our plans and actions. 



Turning from the natural world to the specific realm of human 
culture, man finds a world as extensive and densely populated as the 
heavens themselves; indeed, without the aid of his words and symbols 
and patterns of culture, external nature would be inconceivable — 
almost invisible. Man stands at a busy crossroads where he directs the 
flow of traffic between the past and the future: his present, correctly 
viewed, is a composite of seen and unseen forces derived from the 
past, and anticipated or potential forces, directed back into the pres- 
ent from an ideal future. As Korzybski once put it, in a phrase that 
says as much as the whole book that contained it, man is a time- 
binding animal: he lives in three dimensions of time as well as space. 
Without that temporal depth, itself the product of human culture, the 
present would be so meaningless as to be non-existent. 

But it is not alone through his deepened self-consciousness or through 
the agency of directed scientific thought that man finds himself on the 
brink of a decisive constructive change, as the alternative to further 
disintegration. Whereas other civilizations, in similar moments, were 
faced with a definite shrinkage of life, we behold quite different con- 
ditions and prospects. No Polybius can point to the worldwide falling 
of the birth rate; no Cyprian can say that Nature herself is ceasing to 
support life. In a single century, the population of the earth has 
doubled — ^the result of an increased food supply and the more hy- 
gienic care of the young. Despite reckless misuse, man’s vital assets 
were never greater than now; and there is a fund of reserve vitality, 
visible today in countries whose net reproduction rate was once dwin- 
dling, ready to be released if occasion demands. Observe the rise of 
the birth rate in many Western countries during the last decade. Even 
with only our present knowledge of organic processes, we can reforest 
the earth and create such a plenitude of raw materials as will enable 
a keen and sinewy race to flourish in every part of the planet. So, too, 
with our command of energy: a new period of sun-power and electric 
power is at hand that will utilize current income, instead of dissipating 
our capital reserves of wood, coal, petroleum, or uranium. The out- 
put of our machines will rise, while the role of the machine in life 
itselt will diminish; many instrumental processes that still remain 
uppermost in human consciousness, because of their imperfection, will 
presently be transferred to automata. Vitality and energy are the natu- 
ral foundations of a higher life: never before did mankind have such 
an abundance of both to tap. 



These benefits are plainly only of a preparatory nature; and they 
are small and insignificant compared to the approaching mobilization 
of man’s greatest source of developments: the cultural heritage itself, 
now divided, dispersed, and very largely dissipated through lack of 
organs of communication. We now sta . at the beginning of an age 
of cultural cross-fertilization, the meeting of the East and the West, 
the North and the South: the first true age of man. Even the most 
primitive of such interchanges has already had immense results on 
human life: witness the original transmission of printing from Korea 
and China to the Western World. It is only a few hundred years since 
the Chinese classics became available to the West, or Christian reli- 
gion and Western science penetrated the Orient. Only a century and 
a half have passed since Sanskrit was first translated into English; 
and the human race is still only at the beginning of a new epoch, 
when all its national and racial possessions, once regarded as isolated 
and exclusive, shall be universally shared. 

But the promise before us is plain: a planetary interchange, not 
merely of goods but of people, not merely of knowledge but of ideas, 
values, ideals, scientific discoveries, religious insights, patterns of life. 
These possibilities define the new goals of human development. 

The Maitreyan Age, long prophesied by the Buddhists, the age of 
balance and organic symmetry, lies before us: the dialectic opposite 
of the age of specialism, division, and disintegration from which we 
must now emerge. Fullness, wholeness, exuberance, balance, mutual 
aid: these are the words that characterize the potentialities of our age 
and set it off from times of low vitality, dearth, miserliness, isolation, 
painful specialization, cultural regression. The greater number of men, 
in every historic civilization, have lived only partial, fragmentary 
lives, beset by anxiety, limited in understanding and action, confined 
mainly to the surface of their meager acres and the even narx*ower 
boundaries set by their own skins: lives not yet human except by 
promise and intention. 

But here and there in history one notes a sudden concentration of 
energies, a more favorable constellation of social opportunities, an 
almost worldwide upsurge of prophetic anticipation, disclosing new 
possibilities for the race: so it was with the worldwide changes in 
the sixth century b.c. symbolized by Buddha, Solon, Zoroaster, Com 
fucius, and their immediate successors, changes that gave common 
values and purposes to people too far separated physically for even 
Alexander the Great to unite them. Out of still deeper pressures, anx- 



ieties, insecurities, a corresponding renewal on an even wider scale 
now seems about to open for mankind. 

Today man is like a mountain climber who must leap at his peril 
over a formidable crevasse, in order to continue his upward way; 
and to make the physical jump he will have to draw on all his per- 
sonal resources. If he be too weak or cowardly to make the eliort, 
he will freeze in his present position, unable to climb up or down, 
until cold or terror or fatigue, or some combination of all these, forces 
him to lose his grip and fall to his death. No small reluctant efforts 
will overcome the conditions that threaten not simply the advance, 
but the sheer animal survival, of the human race. True, man has never 
made this leap and there is no guarantee that he will reach the other 
side: but the upward ascent now beckons as it never beckoned before, 
and above the parting clouds we can now discern the nearest of the 
sunlit peaks. If we have faith, we shall reach the other side. But first, 
we must take the measure of our dangers; for a half-way leap will 
prove as mortal as no leap at all. 


Perhaps fortunately, there is a negative pressure toward the trans- 
formation of modern man: without it, the positive advantages and op- 
portunities might not move him sufficiently to action. We have reached 
a point in history where man has become his own most dangerous 
enemy. At the moment he boasts of conquering nature, he surrenders 
his higher capacities, and he weakens his ability outside the limited 
framework of science for co-ordinated thought and disciplined action. 
Today it is man’s higher functions that have become automatic and 
constricted and his lower ones that have become spontaneous and irre- 
pressible. We arrest our inner creativity with external compulsions and 
irrelevant anxieties, at the mercy of constant interruptions by telephone 
and radio and insistent print, timing our lives to the movement of a 
production belt we do not control. At the same time, we give author- 
ity to the stomach, the muscles, the genitals — to animal reflexes that 
produce obedient consumers, whip-wielding man-trainers, slavish po- 
litical subjects, push-button automatons. 

The failure to respond to this situation is a symptom of the very 
disease that has brought it about. Unlike his electronic thinking ma- 
chines, the civilization modern man has built is not so contrived that, 
when it goes wrong as a whole, it will issue a warning signal and halt 

in its operation. Indeed, our emotions and feelings, which would nor- 
mally provide these signals, have in fact been deliberately extirpated, 
in order to make the machine work more smoothly. Worse than that: 
so habitually have our minds been committed to the specialized, the 
fragmentary, the particular, and so uncommon is the habit of viewing 
life as a dynamic inter-related system, that we cannot on our own 
premises recognize when civilization as a whole is in danger; nor can 
we readily accept the notion that no part of it will be safe or sound 
until the whole is reorganized. Hence the fatuous degree of optimism 
people continue to exhibit, though valuable areas of our civilization 
are already destroyed and even greater sectors, perhaps, have be- 
come meaningless. 

The visible symptoms of our present state are numerous: if they 
are too well known to be repeated, they are also too generally neg- 
lected to be taken for granted. They range from the mass extermina- 
tion of an estimated eighteen million people by the Nazis, some six 
million of these being Jews, extermination accompanied by every con- 
ceivable refinement of brutality and torture, to the cold genocide prac- 
ticed by my own countrymen — ^the 180,000 Japanese civilians killed 
by fire bombs in Tokyo in one night, or the 200,000 people [final 
estimate] who were instantly incinerated, or mutilated and eventually 
doomed to die, in Hiroshima in the course of a few seconds. 

During the last thirty years between forty and fifty million people, 
at a rough estimate, have met premature death through war and geno- 
cide alone. In such statistics one has the gross indications of the wide- 
spread miscarriage of all our humane intentions, so strenuously ex- 
erted in other departments. For every life we learn to save in child- 
hood, through advances in hygiene, diet, and medical care, “civilized” 
governments, which still threaten each other’s existence, are now pre- 
pared to take away indiscriminately a score of lives, in acts of planned 
genocide. These acts, by their very nature, will make impossible any 
rational settlement capable of promoting fellowship and mumaT aid. 
In such a situation the only remedy for total insecurity would be to|aI 

Now there is no doubt that our recurrent world wars have brought 
to the surface more speedily many evils that might have remained 
latent for a longer period; but it would be foolish, I believe, to look 
to a single institution or a single set of events for the full explanation 
of our present condition. All social phenomena, almost without ex- 
ception, are the result of a multitude of converging and interacting 



events; and therefore to single out any one of them — as Christian 
theologians did in their providential interpretation of history, or as 
Marxians now do in their economic interpretation of history — is by 
that very act to misread the nature of human society itself. Wars have 
indeed aggravated all our difficulties today; but we would do ill to 
attribute to war alone the breakdown that was already visible to pene- 
trating observers from one to two generations earlier, in a period that 
now seems incredibly peaceful. War is both the product of an earlier 
corruption and a producer of new corruptions. The wars of our time 
have only brought out a destructiveness and a denial of life that were 
latent in this society: they were in a sense the negative alternatives to 
a general renewal that no ruling class was self-denying enough to 

At all events, our present moral breakdown has long been under 
way. Wholly engrossed in the fabrication of machines and the exploi- 
tation of nature, we had neglected the proper education of man. 
Through our skill in invention, we had created a highly complicated 
and inter-related world community whose very existence depended 
upon religious and moral values we permitted to lapse. Western civ- 
ilization has lived for more than a century under the sign of power: 
forgetting, in our pride, that uncontrolled power in any of its manifes- 
tations, as heat, as light, as physical force, as political compulsion, 
is inimical to life; for life flourishes only to the extent that it is able 
to regulate power, screening off its direct impact and reducing it to 
those amounts that are favorable to vital processes. By something 
closer than a mere figure of speech, what is true for the single organ- 
ism is likewise true for the whole civilization. Our very will-to-survive 
is subject to destructive irrational turnings upon itself, as people lose 
the sense of a goal and a purpose beyond mere animal existence. Life 
proceeds by measure and balance: unlimited and undirected power 
is another name for suicide. 

The deeper grounds for this relapse into nihilism have still to be 
adequately explored. The English poet. A, E. Housman, pictured him- 
self ‘^a stranger and afraid, in a world I never made.” But the fact is 
that in the mechanistic world conceived and fabricated by science, man 
has become even more of a stranger, and has even more reason to be 

Western culture no longer represents man: it is mainly outside him, 
and in no small measure hostile to his whole self: he cannot take it in. 
He is like a patient condemned in the interests of X-ray photography 



to live Upon a diet of barium sulphate. Indeed, the more intense mod- 
ern man’s effort to take in this culture, the more pitiable his actual 
condition. There is no , inner relation between man’s organic and per- 
sonal needs and the special institutions he has created for the expres- 
sion of the power complex. The great city, with its drone of unceasing 
mechanical activities, is no longer man writ large: at best, to adapt 
himself to his environment, man has reduced himself to a minor 
mechanism: the machine writ small. The autonomous activities of the 
personality, choice, selection, self-regulation, self-direction, purposive- 
ness, all the attributes of freedom and creativeness, have become pro- 
gressively more constrained, as external pressures become more per- 
vasive and overbearing. In the end, as Samuel Butler satirically 
prophesied, man may become just a machine’s contrivance for repro- 
ducing another machine. 

But something even more disastrous has happened within this ma- 
chine culture: life itself, for the ordinary man, though protected and 
furthered by a hundred devices that increase his expectation of life, 
has become less interesting and less significant: it is at best a mild 
slavery, and at its worst, the slavery is not mild. Why should anyone 
give to the day’s work the efforts and sacrifices it demands? By his 
very success in inventing labor-saving devices, modern man has manu- 
factured an abyss of boredom that only the privileged classes in earlier 
civilizations have ever fathomed: the small variations, the minor ini- 
tiatives and choices, the opportunity for using one’s wits, the slightest 
expression of fantasy, have disappeared progressively from the daily 
tasks of the common man, caught in big organizations that do his think- 
ing for him. The most deadly criticism one could make of modern 
civilization is that, apart from its man-made crises and catastrophes, 
it is not humanly interesting. 

To alleviate his boredom modern man has invented an extrava- 
gantly complicated outer life, which fills up his leisure hours with 
forms of play that are hardly to be distinguished from his work. As 
man’s inner life has shriveled, he has recovered a sense of vitality and 
purpose by giving release to the most primitive elements in his un- 
conscious: the crimes and guilts of Electra, Orestes, Hamlet, Macbeth, 
are relatively human expressions compared to the calculated cruelties 
and infamies so-called civilized nations have introduced, both in fan- 
tasy and in deed. 

Apart from these pathological results, our mechanized culture has 
produced a pervasive sense of frustration. No one can possibly know 



more than a fragment of all that might be known, see more than a 
passing glimpse of all that might be seen, do more than a few ran- 
dom, fitful acts, of all that might, with the energies we now command, 
be done: there is a constant disproportion between our powers and our 
satisfactions. The typical role of the personality today is an insignifi- 
cant one: non-commanding, unpurposeful. The walls of the outer shell 
of our life have thickened, and the creature within has diminished in 
size in order to accommodate himself to this inimical overgrowth. 

The contents of modern man’s daydreams too closely resemble those 
of Bloom in Ulysses, filled with the dead tags of newspaper editorials, 
the undigested vomit of advertising slogans, greasy crumbs of irrele- 
vant information, and the choking dust of purposeless activity. The 
duty to become part of this chaos, to keep up with it, to accept it in- 
ternally, is the bitter duty of modem man — most adequately described 
and analyzed by Waldo Frank, in his description of The American 
Jungle, in The Rediscovery of America. Unfortunately, the more busy 
the mental traffic, the emptier becomes the resultant life: therefore the 
more abjectly dependent the individual atom in this society becomes 
upon the very stimuli which — ^though they have, in fact, caused his 
emptiness — divert his attention from his plight. 

Such a mechanical routine results in a loss of self-confidence and 
self-respect that few primitive communities would countenance: in- 
deed, the “machine-herd,” as we should properly call this passive 
creature, is a poorer animal than the stolidest cow-herd, largely be- 
cause he “knows so much that ain’t so.” Hence the current spread of 
quackery, superstition, fanaticism, comparable to that which marked 
the decline of the Hellenic and Roman order: a growing tendency to 
gamble and to believe in Chance as the supreme Goddess of human des- 
tiny: the erratic Wheel of Chance being the only possible happy alter- 
native to the undeviating iron rails of Fate, on which a declining civili- 
zation helplessly rolls. 

Unable to create a meaningful life for itself, the personality takes 
its own revenge: from the lower depths comes a regressive form of 
spontaneity: r^w animality forms a counterpoise to the meaningless 
stimuli and the vicarious life to which the ordinary man is conditioned. 
Getting spiritual nourishment from this chaos of events, sensations, 
and devious interpretations is the equivalent of trying to pick through 
a garbage pile for food. Even those who have direct access to the 
kitchen do not get properly fed. Our leaders are themselves the victims 
of the very system they have helped to create. What Dr Sheldon has 



called ^‘psychological overcrowding” is the typical mischief of West- 
ern civilization in its present aspect. As a result of our very ingenuity 
in inventing reproductive and manifolding devices, even the economy 
of a stable, abstract medium like print has been lessened; a clumsy 
concreteness retards the whole process of thought, and we are as much 
handicapped by an excess of data as by a lack of it. So instead of pro- 
ducing a new gain of time and energy for the consummations of life, 
our uncontrolled mechanization has made it necessary to spend a larger 
part of the day on the preparatory means. Final results: a surfeit of 
tasks, interests, stimuli, reactions: an absence of valuable order and 

In the end, such a civilization can produce only a mass man: in- 
capable of choice, incapable of spontaneous, self-directed activities: 
at best patient, docile, disciplined to monotonous work to an almost 
pathetic degree, but increasingly irresponsible as his choices become 
fewer and fewer: finally, a creature governed mainly by his condi- 
tioned reflexes — the ideal type desired, if never quite achieved, by 
the advertising agency and the sales organizations of modem business, 
or by the propaganda office and the planning bureaus of totalitarian 
and quasi-totalitarian governments. The handsomest encomium for 
such creatures is: “They do not make trouble.” Their highest virtue 
is: “They do not stick their necks out.” Ultimately, such a society pro- 
duces only two groups of men: the conditioners and the conditioned; 
the active and the passive barbarians. The exposure of this web of 
falsehood, self-deception, and emptiness is perhaps what made Death 
of a Salesman so poignant to the metropolitan American audiences that 
witnessed it. 

Now this mechanical chaos is plainly not self-perpetuating, for it 
affronts and humiliates the human spirit; and the tighter and more 
efficient it becomes as a mechanical system, the more stubborn will be 
the human reaction against it. Eventually, it must drive modern man 
to blind rebellion, to suicide, or to renewal: and so far it has worked 
in the first two ways. On this analysis, the crisis we now face would 
be inherent in our culture even if it had not, by son^ miracle, also 
imleashed the more active disintegrations that have taken place in re- 
cent history. 

In his final state, on the highest levels of our society, modem man 
becomes a mixture of two prophetic nineteenth century heroes: Haw- 
thorne’s Ethan Brand and Melville’s Captain Ahab — ^both fanatically 
concentrated upon a single end. Ethan Brand, pursuing his quest for 


truth, becomes entirely indifferent to the human results of his work; 
rigorously suppressing his emotions, he cuts himself off from the ‘‘mag- 
netic chain of humanity.” This dearth of feeling and emotion, this lack 
of human-heartedness, is the typical by-product of our traditional con- 
ceptions of science. In the same mood of withdrawal modern physicists 
concentrated on the development of atomic theory and on the perfection 
of instruments leading to the release of atomic energy, without the 
faintest concern — until they finally faced the results of their “disin- 
terested” activity in a last moment of remorseful panic — about the 
social destination of their scientific experiments, though as early as 
1914 H. G. Wells had prophetically outlined, in vivid detail, the con- 
sequences we now face. This monomaniac concentration on a limited 
order of truth, intensified by the withdrawal of human feeling, is, as 
Hawthorne saw, the unforgivable sin of modern man. 

But there is another side to the modern personality, that of Captain 
Ahab: full of pride, anger, self-righteous aggression, conscious through 
little Pip of the claims of love, but brushing them aside in order to 
pursue his demonic hunt of the White Whale, taking on in his pursuit 
of the monster the very character of unreasoning aggression of which 
he himself had been the victim earlier. Brand throws himself into his 
charcoal furnace, as the physicist may yet consume himself in his 
atomic pile; Ahab throws overboard every scientific instrument that 
might guide him homeward in order to confine in still narrower chan- 
nels his unqualified aggression. Both cases — one through passive with- 
drawal and through the drying up of feeling and emotion, the other 
through the active expression of the more aggressive and dominating 
sides of the personality — result in a fatal extinction of the human, and 
a final terminus to further development. Here, rather than in the Faust 
legend, are the true myths of modern man. 

The conclusion should be plain. All the resources our society now 
possesses, all its present energies and vitalities, all its funded values 
and ideas, must be concentrated on the upbuilding and regenerative 
functions, in both the personality and the community. Where do these 
forces exist? By what method can we tap them and apply them? To 
what goals shall we direct them? What discipline must we establish 
for the daily life, and what system of thought, what body of ideals, 
must guide both the person and the community? These questions are 
now uppermost in all awakened minds. 

But we shall not achieve a more adequate philosophy merely by re- 
jecting wholesale our present way of life or by reverting to some sim- 



pier archaic scheme of life and thought. It is not enough to say, as 
Rousseau once did, that one has only to reverse all the current prac- 
tices to be right. The cure for our over-concentration on the outer world 
is not a recoil into an equally sterile and shut-off inner world ; the' alter- 
native to blindly conquering nature is not to neglect nature entirely 
and focus wholly on man. If our new philosophy is well grounded we 
shall not merely react against the "^‘air-conditioned nightmare” of our 
present culture; we shall also carry into the future many of the ele- 
ments of positive good that this culture actually embraces — its sense 
of impersonal truths that lie beyond mere wishful thinking, its tech- 
nique for collective verification, its capacity for directed thought: in- 
deed, we shall transfer its sense of order from the too-limited realm 
of science to life at large. 


Logically speaking, three main courses are now open to modern man. 

First: All the existing institutions may continue to carry forward 
the methods and forms of the past, without any effort either to recon- 
stitute the overall pattern or to re-orient any single institution. Since, 
dominated by our present purposes, these forces, and institutions have 
already shown themselves capable of unparalleled destructiveness, 
there is no evidence whatever that the vital and upbuilding elements 
that are also at work will, without further effort, gain the upper hand 
again. On the contrary: the present indications are as clear today as 
they were to Augustine in the fourth century a.d. with regard to Rome. 
If we continue on our present downward course, at tlie accelerated rate 
that marks the last half-century, the end of Western civilization is in 
sight: very probably the end of all civilization for another millennium: 
possibly even the extinction of life in any form on this planet. For the 
first time in history, man has the means in his possession to commit 
collective genocide or suicide, on a scale sufficient to envelop the whole 
race. The end of the world” is no longer an apocalyptic hyperbole, 
now that an atomic chain reaction might bring it to pass. 

Second alternative: Western man may make a compulsive attempt 
at stabilization and fixation, without bringing about any radical re- 
newal or reorientation. This was the method of totalitarian fascism as 
practiced in Nazi Germany: a deliberate regression to tribal ideals and 
infantile practices, an attempt to throw off the complex inter-relation- 
ships, the patient co-operations and accommodations of a developed 



society, and return to fixed custom, to a servile conditioning of re- 
sponses, to untrammeled aggression on the part of the ruling classes. 
Though soviet communism began its revolution with a»eutopian vision 
of freedom and brotherhood, it has in the course of a single generation 
descended to almost the same level of barbarism; and if the present 
tensions between ^‘communist” (now actually fascist) Soviet Russia 
and the non-communist states continue for any length of time, there 
is now plenty of evidence at hand, particularly in the United States, 
to show that a similar retreat to barbarism will take place in the very 
effort to ward off Russian domination. In America the forces of re- 
action, already utilizing irresponsible slander and legal coercion to 
silence rational opposition, may easily, under the rabid leadership of 
privileged Senatorial demagogues, pass on to the stage of active vio- 
lence unless those who believe in freedom and democracy quickly 
recover the initiative. No new philosophy, no personal transformation, 
no untried mode of action is required for such stabilization by regres- ® 
sion: all that is required is a release from civilized inhibitions and a 
cringing submission to the criminal and psychotic personalities who 
rise to the top in such a situation. 

Fortunately, this second alternative is ultimately self-defeating. In 
their fear of dangerous thoughts the heads of such a regime tend to 
call all thoughts dangerous; so, given enough time, they must succumb, 
as the Nazis did, to the general stultification of science and common 
sense that results from the very effort to achieve protection. But un- 
fortunately, the violence and quackery and fear, which cause totali- 
tarian rulers to plunge into a succession of blunders as great as that 
which Stalin made in his treaty of collaboration with Hitler, may also 
wipe out society at large in the very act that causes barbarism’s own 
downfall. What is worse, despite the fact that its ultimate fate is sealed, 
a totalitarian regime may well last for at least a century or two, as 
Russian Czarism did, before it is corrupted beyond repair by its evils. 

Now history shows that even the most successful efforts at stabiliza- 
tion by fixation and compulsion, such as that begun under Constantine 
the Great in the Eastern Empire, or under the Papacy in the West, do 
not offer anything more hopeful than a long period of hibernation. 
Perhaps the happiest effort, since it re-trained many humane attributes, 
was that which took place in Rome under the Empire, from Augustus 
to Trajan. An even more successful effort was that which took place 
in the Roman Catholic Church, from the thirteenth century on, in its 
effort to preserve and perpetuate medieval civilization: the state ffiat 



was ideologically crystallized in the Summa Theologia of Thomas 
Aquinas. Relying upon compulsion because it now lacked the power 
to conjure up f^ith or impel consent by more patient rational methods, 
the Inquisition became the typical organ of this kind of effort. In the 
end the Church saved itself, but only at the price of losing hold over 
the rest of Western society. 

Third alternative: •‘But today another course opens: this is compar- 
able to that which opened in Rome in the fifth century a.d. when the 
Christian Church laid the basis in faith and thought and practice for a 
new society. Out of the immense vitalities of our present civilization, a 
dynamic integration and renewal may still take place. This will not 
come by following the path of least resistance; nor will it come by ef- 
fecting a succession of small, unco-ordinated, day-to-day modifications 
and reforms: it involves nothing less than a change in the total pattern 
of life, working simultaneously throughout every institution, group, and 
person in society: not at first necessarily commanding a majority, but 
at least taking hold of a ‘^saving remnant,” whose new vision and new 
practices will in time be transfused through every part of the commu- 
nity. Such a change does not come about purely by rational decision: 
it will come, probably, only as the outcome of a crisis so threatening, 
so calamitous in its possibilities, so empty of easier alternatives, that 
something like a spontaneous collective decision will be possible — 
much like that which roused the British people after Dunkirk. At that 
point, the bounds of possibility will be widened: that which ordinarily 
could not be done will be done. 

Even now, the fateful constellation of forces I have been describing 
has probably come about; and if we are not to bow passively to catas- 
trophe or cower under the totalitarian compulsions that will, so to say, 
freeze catastrophe into the stable form of our society, we must make 
the personal decisions and undertake the heroic duties and efforts that 
will bring about a collective regeneration. To understand the nature of 
this situation, to extend the knowledge and to re-create the values nec- 
essary for our survival and our salvation, is in fact the main purpose 
of the present book. 

Such, then, are the alternatives we face today. We may either follow 
the downward cycle of de-building, devaluation, and disintegration, 
till life is not either attractive or endurable, or we may achieve a brief, 
illusory reprieve by committing the latent forces of life to the process 
of fixation and stabilization: a negative kind of renewal, in which the 
lower forms of life will supplant the higher, in which mind and spirit 



will be sacrificed to power, in which organized criminality will become 
the established government. 

By this second process we may outwardly arrest the present diseases 
of our civilization and keep them from spreading; but only by creating 
a kind of living death for everyone. And as the patient whose limbs are 
in a plaster cast may by his relief from pain have the illusion of im- 
provement, before gangrene sets in, so a nation that has arrested the 
processes of decay by stabilizing on a Jow level, may have, as in Nazi 
Germany or in other totalitarian countries today, the sense of being 
the healthy exponents of a new form of life. This is but a momentary 
illusion. The totalitarian drug is as fatal as the infection it arrests. 

Thus the inertia of “progress” today leads swiftly downhill; while 
the attempt to achieve stabilization by collective compulsion and social 
arrest likewise leads to the same destination — death. Only one road 
lies open to those who would remain human: the road of renewal. Each 
one of us must dedicate himself, at whatever efiort, with whatever will- 
ing sacrifice, to such a transformation of himself and all the groups 
and associations in which he participates, as will lead to law and order, 
to peace and co-operation, to love and brotherhood, throughout the 
planet. Since the terms of this transformation are familiar ones, it is 
the situation itself and the method we bring to it, that will make the 
difference, changing the empty professions that have so long gone un- 
heeded into operative principles and tangible goals. 




Plainly, a profound change in goals and purposes is an essential 
basis for the new life that must germinate, if the development of man 
is to go on. But this alone is not sufficient. Socialism, during the nine- 
teenth century, projected far-reaching changes in society to introduce 
justice and humane co-operation at the expense of private property 
and privilege. Many of these changes have already been effected, even 
in nominally capitalist regimes. But socialism sought to effect these 
changes without transforming the psychological potentials of its ad- 
herents, Believing in the spontaneous goodness of man, it assumed that 
the evils in the body politic were wholly external to its members, that 
capitalism and militarism could be replaced without creating disci- 
plines to transform greed, avarice, luxury, pride, aggression, and regi- 
mentation. As a result socialism in practice often shows characteristics 
uncomfortably like the system it has partly replaced. 

But it would be equally faulty, in the light of our present knowledge, 
to seek merely an inner change: that was the mistake of the Greek phi- 
losophers after Plato: they sought only the salvation of enlightened 
individuals, capable of discourse at their own high level of abstraction. 
They had nothing to offer the mass of men, and no vision of the gen- 
eral renewal of society. 

We need a doctrine which, because it aims at the transformation and 
development of the person, will be capable of guiding aiid re-directing 
the energies of men in groups and associations: an ethical discipline 
and an education capable of giving human institutions and organiza- 
tions the potentials for freedom we so far find — and still only spo- 
radically here — in individual persons. To this end, we must create a 
framework of more adequate concepts and ideas, capable of enclosing 
every dimension of life. This framework so far is not yet supplied 

by any single system of philosophy or religion. Above all, we need ^ 



an ideology so profoundly organic that it will be capable of bringing 
together the severed halves of modern man, the private and the public, 
the inner and the outer, the domain of freedom, emergence, creative- 
ness, and the domain of necessity. In short, before modern man can 
live a sane life he must escape his present ideological strait jackets. 

Each one of us sees the world through a screen: the screen of his 
physical constitution and his temperament, his vocation and his varied 
social roles, his family*" relations and his other group affiliations, his 
personal philosophy and the total body of his culture. While each of 
these aspects is typical every actual experience is unique; so one might 
easily assume that their collective expression would lead mainly to 
hallucinations, cross-purposes, self-deceptive projections, and errors. 
But all these screens, apparently so different and divergent, are them- 
selves the results of the continued transformations of life, the ceaseless 
interactions between organism and environment. Their very incongru- 
ities are the products of a common medium, a common process, com- 
mon tasks and common ends: so that the world is not in fact a shatte r- 
in g chaos but a cosmos, in which error and illusion can be detected 
b ecause they occur as erratic elements on a ground pattern of order . 
T his underlying unity makes significant difference possihla 

From one end of creation to another we must not merely posit a 
unifying process that underlies all variety and diversity: we must also 
posit a direction of change: a set toward life and mind and conscious- 
ness. Life occurs indeed at a very late stage in cosmic evolution: or- 
ganized mind at a still later stage, and human beings, with conscious- 
ness, rational purposes, and free choices, last of all. Quantitatively 
speaking, life seems extremely rare and precious, even in the humblest, 
least sentient forms: the nearest solar system that might be disposed 
favorably toward life is, the astronomers tell us, about four and a half 
light years away. But the emergence of life and mind gives fresh sig- 
nificance to every preparatory activity. Values and purposes, so far 
from being trivial human interventions in cosmic events that deny them, 
exist as poteiftialities at the lowest levels and become increasingly evi- 
dent, indeed increasingly dominant, at each upward stage. 

In the world of nature it is becoming plain that physical events can- 
not be fully understood except with reference to the pattern of the 
whole in time and space. No analysis of the parts and no mere addi- 
tion of analyses and abstractions will ever give any insight into the 
pattern or purposive configuration that endows them with a special sig- 



nificance: indeed, this organic relationship will not even be suspected 
when methods of abstraction and isolation are the sole ones employed. 

What applies to the “physical world” applies even more to the per- 
son. Even the most primitive physical phenomena may be quite inade- 
quately interpreted — as “merely” of a thermal or electrical nature — 
if the ultimate tendency of the evolutionary process is not kept in 
view. No definition of matter is complete unless one adds that certain 
elements have the potentiality for uniting in complex organic units 
which produce the phenomena of life. More than this: the philosophy 
of Lao-tse, the plays of Moliere, the equations of Gauss, may all be 
unique events in the history of the universe: but they are still events, 
just as real in their uniqueness as mass phenomena that have been re- 
peated a billion billion times. A philosophy that would dismiss these 
events as xmreal or insignificant, in order to reduce matter to “nothing 
but” electrons or neutrons, violates the simplest canons of truth. What 
it dismisses as unreal is merely what discloses the limits of its system 
of interpretation. 

Does it not follow, then, that the current speculations of the astro- 
physicists on the earliest shaking down of order in the universe, or the 
equally marvelous penetration by the nuclear physicist into the con- 
stitution of the atom, are still insufficient if they stop short of the unique 
and unpredictable events which begin to appear, in increasing number, 
with the development of man himself? The newer insights in physi- 
cal science point to this fact. However blind and repetitive physical 
processes once seemed to be when living forms were left out of account, 
some initial taint of tendency and purpose and creativeness seems to 
have been present from the beginning: and in turn the destination casts 
a retrospective meaning over every earlier stage on the journey. 

Many of man’s latter-day inventions, products of his own evolving 
needs, have been anticipated in organic forms at far earlier stages: he 
took his paper-making from the hornets; he copied the soaring birds 
in his airplane ; he re-invented organized society, based on the division 
of labor, about sixty million years after the ants had perfected their 
own. Part of man’s own development consists in a conscious reconstruc- 
tion and re-appraisal of nature’s processes, so that he may make them 
serve ends that play no part in nature except in man himself. But if a 
philosophy of synthesis must emphasize the last stages of this long 
process, the attributes of freedom, uniqueness, self-direction, it cannot 
remain indifferent, like past forms of subjective idealism, to all that 



man owes to the energies and vitalities that preceded his own emer- 
gence. Continuity: emergence: creativity — these are the basic postu- 
lates of the new synthesis. 


The world, according to a view that dates back to Democritus, is a 
random mixture of atoms: chance created solid aggregations out of 
endless atomic collisions, and man’s nature was formed, essentially, 
by extraneous forces, likewise operating by necessity or chance. This 
view contrasts with the religious intuition that man is the object of a 
divine purpose: a rational soul with an eternity in which to realize 
and*perfect his own development — ^whether that ends in non-being, as 
with Buddhism, or in everlasting beatitude, as in the Christian doc- 
trines. These latter beliefs perhaps over-magnify man’s self-sufficiency 
and make him a terminal point in a too-limited process: but the first 
view not merely demolishes the significance of human history but shuts 
its eyes to the evidence of order and purpose that even physical nature 
presents. Let us aim at a fuller and juster statement. 

Before every attempt to describe the world and life and time there 
stands an unspoken prologue: human history itself. Without that pro- 
logue, the rest of the play would be an unintelligible buzz and blur. 
Neither history nor nature is given directly in contemporary experi- 
ence, except in snatches that would be meaningless if they were not 
part of a long sequence of interpretations to which man has given his 
days and years. Each generation, each individual, can make but a 
minute sampling of the whole in its effort to reduce to intelligible order 
the collective experience upon which both knowledge and practice rest. 
What we know of the world comes to us mainly by interpretation, not 
by direct experience; and the very vehicle of interpretation itself is 
a product of that which must be explained: it implies man’s organs 
and physiological aptitudes, his feelings and curiosities and sociabil- 
ities, his organized social relations and his means for transmitting and 
perfecting that imique agent of interpretation, language. History itself 
would remain indecipherable without the meanings and. values that 
have emerged from it. 

Man’s basic data are not in the least simple or elemental: what is 
basic is the highly complex structure of meanings and values produced 
and transmitted in history. What man knows about the nature of the 
physical universe is only a subordinate part of his own process of self- 



discovery and self-revelation. In recent times, baffled by his own inner 
state, tormented by insoluble problems. Western man was in fact driven 
to postulate, almost as much for his peace of mind as for any more 
practical purpose, a highly simplified order, from which most of his 
own essential characteristics were excluded: a world free from desire 
and feeling and dream, a world divorced from human purposes and 
human hopes: a world in which mind was laid to sleep, in order to 
operate more efficiently on the body. But the fact is that complexity, 
contradictions, paradox, and mystery are original features of human 
experience; whereas simplicity and clarity and order are extremely 
sophisticated end-products. The classic scientific attempts to picture the 
world, from Thales onward, confuse conceptual simplicity with the 
primitive and basic. 

When we take into account the unspoken prologue of human history 
we must demolish this misleading elementalism. Not sense data or 
atoms or electrons or packets of energy, but purposes, interests, and 
meanings, constitute the underlying facts of human experience. These 
values rise out of impenetrable historic depths, like a coral reef, by 
the heaping up of layer upon layer of life, with each visible event 
emerging out of a million events that have left their historic deposit 
and out of countless millions of lives that have never quite passed away. 
Whatever man knows about external nature is a by-product of man’s 
culture, as revealed in history; and the dimensions of nature alter with 
every change in man’s own development: our present views of the uni- 
verse are no more ultimate than the cave man’s. On every page of na- 
ture’s opened book, man scrawls in the margin his own autobiography. 

To understand the nature of man, accordingly, we must first of all 
understand this prologue; that is, we must take man as we now find 
him, in all his historic complexity: no bare animal shivering in his 
skin, groping in the dark, clawing for food, an alien in a hostile land, 
surrounded by enemies. Quite the contrary: we find man a creature 
born into a going society, which provides him with clothes, protects 
him from dangers, shelters him against the elements, offers him food, 
supplies him with speech, surrounds him with some degree of love, 
endows him with a score of gifts before he has even left the cradle. 
Starting out in such a world, we discover that friendliness and un- 
friendliness, good and bad, are more primordial elements of human 
experience than matter or motion. Tenderness appeared in man’s mam- 
malian ancestors eons before he learned to preserve fire or shape a 



Human life, in its historic manifoldness and purposefulness, is our 
starting point. No single being can embrace that life; no single lifetime 
contains it; no single culture can encompass all its potentialities. One 
cannot even partly understand the nature of man, unless one realizes 
that its roots lie buried in the debris of countless invisible lives and 
that its topmost branches must by their very frailty defy the most dar- 
ing climber. Man lives in history; he lives through history; and in a 
certain sense, he lives for history, since no small part of his activities 
goes toward preparation for an undisclosed future. Without animal 
faith in the past that he helped to make and in the future he is still 
making, human life would shrink in all its dimensions. 


In his own person, man represents every aspect of the cosmos. Re- 
duced to his lowest terms, he is a lump of carbon and a puddle of 
water, mixed with a handful of equally common metals, minerals, and 
gases. But man is likewise a unit of organic life; he is a member of 
the animal world, and of a special order of the animal world, the 
vertebrates, with capacity for free movements, for selective intercourse 
with the environment, for specially canalized responses through a 
highly developed nervous system. Still further, man belongs to the 
family of warm-blooded animals, the mammals, whose females give 
milk to their young and so form a close and tender partnership, often 
fiercely protective, for the nurture of their offspring; and through his 
own internal development, his whole life is suffused with emotions and 
erotic responses which have persisted, like so many other traits of do- 
mestication — ^the cow’s milk or the hen’s eggs — in exaggerated form. 
Starting as an animal among the animals, man has stretched and in- 
tensified certain special organic capacities in order to develop more 
fully what is specifically human. In a fashion that has no rivals in 
other species he thinks: he plays: he loves: he dreams. 

Before dealing at length with that part of man’s heritage which ac- 
counts for his special creativeness let us examine for a moment the 
traits and propensities he shares with the whole world of life. Given 
the waters, rocks, soil, and solar energy out of which life originally 
emerged, one is struck at once by the immense fecundity of all living 
beings, the inexhaustible creativeness of nature herself. 

Long before mind became dominant, life gave itself over to the end- 
less magic of metamorphosis: its own self-transformation. To create 



scales or feathers or skin or fur, to transform a fin into an arm or a 
wing, to invent breathing apparatus for warm-blooded animals, ven- 
turing the radical experiment of living entirely out of water, to separate 
the cycles of growth and reproduction, as in the fern, to mimic leaves 
or twigs or more poisonous creatures — for countless eons these efforts 
sufficed to absorb the vital energies of every species. 

Along with the most prudent kinds of adaptation go many other fac- 
tors, not accounted for in terms of our dominant utilitarian ideology: 
sheer riotousness of imagination — sometimes verging on the comic — 
seems as common in nature as in human culture. By the very wealth 
and diversity of forms, life assured its own continuity and extension 
over every part of the planet: so that there is scarcely a depth of the 
sea or a height of mountain top to which life, in some form, has not 

This exuberance of life, this audacious inventiveness, cannot be 
reduced to an endless series of accidents, Reading nature’s story, we 
observe organic equivalents of what, in human terms, we should call 
plan and plot. When “coincidences” multiply far beyond the bounds 
of probability one must call the result “purpose,” and suspect that it 
shows likenesses with similar processes and patterns man discovers in 
his own life. 

Every beginner in biology quickly learns the elementary properties 
of organisms: nutrition, growth, reproduction, repair, and so forth; 
but there are certain other attributes of life that must not be taken for 
granted. First of all, all organisms follow a life-plan peculiar to their 
species. Until death, the most radical changes that take place within 
an organism proceed in a directed orderly sequence, determined partly 
by its own nature: life-time is not reversible, nor is life itself a suc- 
cession of random responses to an overpowering environment. Whereas 
one may identify an inorganic element by its phase, one must identify 
a higher organism not merely by its species and sex, but by its age, 
its stage of maturation, its plan of life, its partnerships and ecological 

One constant effort of the organism is to regulate the processes out- 
side it, so that they come in the right succession as well as in the right 
quantities. “To everything,” as The Preacher put it, “there is a season, 
and a time to every purpose under heaven: a time to be born and a 
time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck that which is planted: 
a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break down and a time to 
build up.” 



The fact that each species has a norm of growth, that successive 
stages in life are accompanied by the maturation and perfection of 
related organs, culminating usually in reproduction, is a specific qual- 
ity of life. Life is self-limited in time and space; and each species has 
its own specific norm of growth, with a small margin of free play on 
either side of the line. In the physical world, considered apart from 
what man has made of it, there are no such regulations of quantity and 
no such definitive life-plan — though, according to astro-physicists, 
there may conceivably be some regular succession in the building up 
of the elements in cosmic evolution. 

The maintenance of an underlying identity through all the processes 
of change, and the continued transformation of forms and functions 
in the passage from conception to death, are among the essential attri- 
butes of higher organisms. Continuity and emergence greet one every- 
where. The shape of any living thing depends not merely upon outside 
pressure but upon inner, self-maintaining, self-restoring, and self-ful- 
filling processes. The blow of a hammer will leave a dent on a piece 
of lead; if the solid lump is melted, the liquid, on cooling, will show 
no trace of its original dent. But a blow on a living organism is not 
taken so passively, nor will it vanish at all, except from consciousness: 
the body at once mobilizes itself to take care of the injury, in a deter- 
mined effort to restore its original stale. Even when the effect of the 
blow has been repaired and the organism recovers its equilibrium, the 
blow will leave behind an impression, sometimes twofold — visibly, 
say, in the form of a scar, mentally as a memory. 

This quality of preserving its identity and retaining impressions 
begins at the organic level and has in man been carried into an extra- 
sensory apparatus of culture. Organic experience is both cumulative 
and anticipatory. The organism enregisters and remembers: it remem- 
bers and reacts: it reacts and it anticipates: yes, it proposes and pro- 
jects, All living behavior, even when seemingly blind, is forward-look- 
ing: without instructions or past observations a cat who is about to have 
kittens looks for a proper nest — a drawer of silk underwear will do — 
to receive her offspring. That will stand for a thousand other similar 
modes of anxiety and providential anticipation over what is still to 
come. No organism can be adequately described in terms of its imme- 
diate functions or its momentarily visible structure: above all, not man. 

There are two other characteristics of organic life that must be 
reckoned with, as essential to a fuller understanding of man’s creative 
make-up. One of these is common in some degree to ail protoplasm, 



and is generally called irritability, but may, in a larger sense, be 
called responsiveness: a tendency to react to inner or outer stimuli 
by contraction, expansion, withdrawal, attack, by submission or pro- 
tection, by lying low or coming forth to do battle. The other charac- 
teristic peculiar to life is the effort to maintain a dynamic equilibrium, 
balancing accounts between daily profits and losses, making good 
temporary deficits, putting aside reserves for use against an unex- 
pected demand. At the lowest level, an alteration in the acid-alkaline 
balance in the blood leads to both internal changes and external ad- 
justments. Long ago Claude Bernard pointed out that the sensitive 
maintenance of equable internal conditions was extremely important 
for man’s higher development, since gross internal variations under- 
mined, first of all, not the heart action or the muscles, but the ability 
to ‘‘‘concentrate, to think logically, to pay attention.” 

So far as man is an animal, then, he shares these characteristics of 
the organic world. But living forms, in their emergence from the life- 
less and non-organic, still retain some of the inertia of matter: the 
temporary raising of the level of energy calls for continuous ef- 
fort. There is indeed a sort of dialectic opposition, throughout all crea- 
tion, between the tendency to fall into a state of stability and immo- 
bility, and the tendency to climb upward, to seize more energy than is 
needed for survival, taking risks, making adventurous leaps, placing 
the flag of life on some higher mountain top, before seeking safety once 
more — eventually death — in the valley below. However independent 
man may seem through his own proud intelligence and its creations, 
he still needs at every moment the constant co-operation of all the 
forces of nature and history, in order to hold his own. Without food 
man can survive for barely thirty days; without water for little more 
than three days; without air hardly for more than three minutes: but 
without hope he might destroy himself in an even shorter time. 

The same vital impetus that flows through all nature flows through 
man and carries him onward: the forward movement of life, its in- 
surgence and its expectancy, cannot be left out of any account of 
man’s deepest nature. When he is disheartened and defeated by some 
immediate setback to his own plan of life, an inner voice still whis- 
pers; “Hold fast! Life is on your side; and in time you or your issue 
will continue your development and overcome the obstacles that now 
hold you back.” Reason often has told man he was defeated : why 
should the prisoner, the slave, the corrupted and the deformed and 
the ailing all go on with so few exceptions to their dismal end? For 



even the healthy and the fortunate, does not death lie in wait, to can- 
cel out each individual gain? Fortunately, the total effort of life in 
the past still wells through every living creature; and a sense of life- 
lo-come — projected as heaven and eternity in the older forms of reli- 
gion — still beckons man on. Here the tritest of proverbs utters the 
profoundest of truths; while there is life there is hope; and, one may 
add, while there is hope there is life. 

Even when man surpasses his animal needs, he starts from the 
point where they leave off' or become insufficient, and if sometimes he 
relapses into organic lethargy, his original impetus toward mind and 
love comes from that source too. In his blood, the salt of the original 
oceans in which life took rise still circulates; in the period of ovula- 
tion the lunar month repeats its cycle; in the noblest acts of self- 
sacrifice and love, he widens for the good of his race the impulse his 
animal ancestors achieved, even as far hack as the fish, in their care 
of the young. I have seen that shy fish, the lake bass, attack with his 
teeth an intruder who stumbled near the nest he was guarding: as a 
father I understood his feelings and withdrew. The duties of parent- 
hood were not discovered yesterday. 

To recapitulate. Life, even at the lowest level, is a selective proc- 
ess: a process of choosing, restraining, promoting, taking from the 
environment just such sustenance as is helpful toward the creature’s 
development, rejecting what is irrelevant. But life does not float on a 
timeless ocean of existence: it moves forward, impelled by an imma- 
nent purpose that in man becomes a conscious one. Every act of growth 
brings about a temporary upset in an organism’s equilibrium; and the 
final phase of an organism’s existence, death, marks the presence of a 
radical unbalance. Life is directional in tendency, goal-seeking, end- 
achieving, in short, purposive. But unlike inanimate matter, it brings 
into its present effort the memory of a past and the anticipation of a 
future: by that enlargement of the field of its operations it opens up 
the sphere of freedom. 

The life-maintaining functions tend toward autonomy or self-direc- 
tion. Nature’s injunction to every organism, speaking mythically, is: 
“^Be yourself. Fulfill yourself! Follow your destiny!” Within the lim- 
its of time and chance and necessitous circumstance, every organism 
seeks to be master of its own fate. What Patrick Geddes called the 
insurgent quality of life^ its capacity for initiating new activities and 
going off in unexpected directions in order to overcome its inner limi- 



tations and external handicaps is almost as characteristic as the more 
tangible attribute of motility. 

There is one final characteristic of organisms that enters into every 
higher form: the more developed a creature is, the more independent 
it seems, the more heavily does it rely upon the companionship and 
support of many other species. Life has flourished only by extending 
the area of mutual aid, reciprocal interplay, or symbiosis: every crea- 
ture, voluntarily or blindly, is in an active give-and-take relationship, 
not merely with its bare physical environment, but with a multitude 
of other organisms. Living organisms, by the most complex and far- 
reaching operations, form food-chains and work-chains that extend 
from the bacteria in the soil and the air to the domesticated animals, 
indeed they constantly co-operate to remake the whole environment for 
the benefit of life. Even the most solitary and carnivorous eagle forms 
a link in a living chain and depends for his own life on the prosperity 
of his eventual victims. 

Just as purpose in the human sense exists at a much lower uncon- 
scious stage as '‘function” and ‘^mechanism” so does love, in the hu- 
man sense, exist at a lower level as mutual aid and ecological partner- 
ship. Thus life maintains not merely an internal dynamic balance, 
so well described by Dr Walter Cannon in The Wisdom of the Body: 
it also maintains an equally dynamic external balance between all 
its constituent species, whose members live by acts of co-operation that, 
in the higher organisms, are called self-restraint and self-sacrifice. 
This is the fundamental morality of nature. Wherever this morality 
breaks down and creates an unbalance between the species that need 
one another or the men that need one another there is disintegration 
and disorganization. Even the absence of some inorganic element in 
this organic fabric of inter-relationship — as in a diet deficient in iron 
— may be sufficient to place life in danger. 

Balance: autonomy: symbiosis: directional development — ^these are 
the fundamental concepts we extract from a study of living organisms 
at a pre-human level and apply further toward the understanding and 
development of man’s life and destiny in society. Where these fea- 
tures are lacking, where life has become purposeless and unbalanced, 
we have reason to suspect that a profound miscarriage has taken place. 

The relative complexity of man’s external environment is matched 
by his internal environment; and here, if one may judge on the basis 
of his overt actions and fabrications, his departure from the norm of 
his biological companions is most marked; for though they share in 



the development of his higher nervous system, up to a point, they are 
held to the needs of survival by a shorter rope than man has con- 
trived. Plainly, man is full of self -begotten urges, desires, interests, 
dreams, that have no visible and immediate relation to his biological 
prosperity. Unlike the animaFs nicely adjusted reflexes, man’s propen- 
sity to delay his responses and play with alternative modes of action 
sometimes brings about fruitless expenditures of energy and miscar- 
riages of effort; but fortunately, out. of this very propensity to ex- 
ceed his animal limitations, to defy common sense and security, man 
has found new sources of creativeness. Man can through his adapt- 
ability survive in a crowded slum or a filthy trench, under conditions 
that would sicken many other creatures; but he is also capable of 
imagining and creating temples, palaces, gardens, houses, cities, which 
give him pleasures derived from orderly form and accomplished de- 
sign. By a similar process he has created an endless variety of forms 
and patterns for social life. 

On the basis of this organic existence the human personality emerges 
out of the matrix of communal functions and activities; and with it 
certain conditions, essenfial to all life, become intensified and height- 
ened; for in man there is a sharpening of sensory equipment, a sensi- 
tizing of emotional reactions and feelings, a finer capacity to assimilate 
and recall events, even single experiences, an ability to project or- 
ganic functions into extra-organic forms, a capacity to transfer experi- 
ence into symbols and symbols into experience. 

Now in a world only partly under its control, life always exists 
on a precarious basis, holding on from moment to moment, ever wake- 
ful, ever anxious, since security and safety may, by their very pres- 
ence, asphyxiate the sentinels on duty and bring about disintegration 
or death. For the individual member of a species, life is limited, con- 
tingent, perilous, and in the final measure, brief. In the highest realm 
of all — ^the realm of personality — life is even more delicately poised 
over the abyss of non-existence than it is on the organic level: for 
the balance is harder to maintain, and the very habits and rituals that 
help to conserve life in the human community may, by their prolonga- 
tion, also undermine it. A blessing repeated once too often becomes 
a curse. Organic growth and repair have their counterpart in the per- 
sonality in the process of renewal: a continued making over of ideas 
and attitudes, of sentiments and plans, so that the person will over- 
come the animal tendency to repetition, fixation, automatism. 




From the very beginning-, it would appear, man has usually had a 
margin of energy not devoted wholly to the struggle for survival This 
margin, observable in the most primitive culture, is also visible in man’s 
physiological organization; and its existence there offers a key to no 
small part of his eventual creativity. Evolution itself, indeed, presumes 
that there are capacities and potentialities latent in life itself, in its 
most primitive manifestations, that impelled the organism to exert it- 
self beyond the measure necessary to maintain itself or its species: 
how otherwise in fact could purposeful, directional change, with all 
the hazards and fatalities of untried experiments, come to characterize 
tlie complex world of living organisms? 

Because of the impact of economic life on human thought during 
the last century, this margin has often been overlooked or misinter- 
preted: so long as man was viewed as a mere bundle of adaptive mech- 
anisms, as narrowly contrived for work as a mechanical loom or a 
locomotive, his true character was overlooked. Nature, however, has 
gone about its work with a freer hand than man; it has patently not 
Ijcen so intent on the single goal of economy and efficiency. Not that 
economy is necessarily lacking in nature’s plans: the grasses and 
grains form seeds, for example, with conspicuous economy; but it 
was an artist, rather than a mechanical engineer, who designed the 
orchid or the flowering magnolia: even the pitcher plant could have 
enticed its customers without presenting such an alluring show-window. 
The exuberance of life . . . exuberance and largess — these make all 
our rational standards of economy seem mean and restrictive. 

In general, we may say that growth and development themselves 
represent the margin all creatures have, in the upward curve of their 
life, above the energy needed for bare survival; and in man’s organs 
the role of superfluity is particularly conspicuous: Dr Walter Cannon 
pointed out that many organs of the body, as well as the body con- 
sidered as a whole, have a ‘"factor of safety” far above normal re- 
quirements. Thus most of the functions of the paired organs, like 
the lungs and kidneys, can be carried on quite effectively by single 
ones; and even a small part of the adrenal glands or the pancreas en- 
sures life, while their complete extirpation causes death. Perhaps the 
greatest largess, the most luxuriant overgrowth of all, however, has 
taken place in the brain; Morley Roberts went so far as to call it 



tumorous. Comparative embryological studies, as Coghill points out, 
indicate that the higher the animal in the order of intelligence, the 
more the general overgrowth, as regards the immediate possibility 
of behavior, involves the conditioning mechanism. . . . ‘‘This means 
that in man at a stage of development when body movements are of 
the simplest order, that part of the mechanism of association which 
deals particularly with the highest mental and moral processes not 
only is relatively massive but has definitely begun to organize itself 
into the mechanical pattern that characterizes it in the adult.” 

This organic efflorescence was of critical importance to man: prob- 
ably it is the foundation of all those playful impulses, those self- 
starting activities, those circuitous explorations and long-continued 
elaborations, which differentiate human behavior from the brutal di- 
rectness of other animals — ^though even at lower levels, as in the nest- 
adorning habits of the bower bird, there may exist some faint early 
extra-organic premonition of this new order of activity. The quality 
we call playfulness depends upon an excess of energy: in the young 
it comes forth, at a physiological level, as random cries, gurglings, 
babblings, bubble-blowings, movements of arms and legs, closing and 
opening of hands — quite apart from any promptings of hunger, dis- 
comfort, or a friendly presence. Let these energies be dissipated in a 
fever, and the child’s body immediately becomes droopy, inert, death- 
like. At a later stage of growth, idle associations, superfluous images, 
involved dreams, random explorations, play a part in development 
that could never be justified, in origin, on any principle of economy 
or by any direct expectation of usefulness. In a mechanistic culture 
like our own, these important activities have been either undervalued 
or overlooked, 

Once we rid ourselves of the unconscious bias of mechanism, we 
must recognize that the “superfluous” is just as essential to human 
development as the economic: that beauty, for example, has played 
as large a part in evolution as use and cannot be explained, as Darwin 
sought to, merely as a practical device of courtship or fertilization. 
In short, it is just as permissible to conceive nature, mythologically, as 
a poet, working in metaphors and rhythms, as to think of nature as a 
cunning mechanic, trying to save material, make both ends meet, do 
the job efficiently and cheaply. The mechanistic interpretation is quite 
as subjective as the poetic one; and up to a point each is useful. 

The species that have continued the upward climb, notably man 
himself, are the relatively imperfect, unspecialized, uncommitted, self- 



willed, and even maladjusted ones. These species reject Spencer’s one- 
sided passive definition of life, as ^‘the continuous adjustment of in- 
ternal relations to external ones”; they stubbornly seek to reverse this 
process, in order to bring external relations into harmony with their 
own life-plans. Man dominates the line of the brainy animals; and 
the over-development of the brain itself, with its thousands of still un- 
used neurones, was the most critical step, possibly, in the emergence 
of manlike slocks. In man this change was probably accompanied by 
the expansion of the role of feelings already developed in the mam- 
malian line. These further intensifications of feeling, which went with 
the increase of intelligence and modified it, were due, possibly, to 
die direct hormonic action of monthly ovulation and the prolonged 
activity of the mammary glands of the female and the overactive geni- 
tals of the male. 

All the threats of arrested development, the threat of complete 
adaptation, the threat of parasitism, the threat of insensibility, were 
diminished or overcome by the development of organs that increased 
the range, vividness, and autonomy of human responses. Through the 
overgrowth of his brain, man had an agent capable of carrying creative- 
ness from the organic realm, where it could only be slowly embodied 
in relatively stable animal structure to the super-oi’ganic realm, the 
specific domain of human culture. Instead of carving one’s answer in 
flesh and blood, one could write the answer on the sand and erase it 
the next day, or perpetuate it in wood and stone, on papyrus or paper. 
Man is the unfinished animal. Unlike other organisms, the final stage 
of his growth is not determined by his biological past: it rests with 
himself and is partly determined by his own plans for the future. 

With that change to the super-organic, the first age of man properly 
began. Very possibly, in the difficult days of the later glacial periods, 
this change had survival value, too: but that must be taken as an 
incidental gratuity. In the end, man paid for his creative exuberance 
by his increased consciousness of death; yet in facing death, he added 
a new dimension to his life, which no other animal, apparently, has 
even dimly sensed. 


The human community, as Aristotle observed, is an association of 
people who need each other. And they need each other for two reasons: 
spiritually in order to find themselves in the full dimensions of the 



group: practically to take advantage of their differences. Unfortu- 
nately by perfecting their special aptitudes they become more help- 
less as they become mo;e efficient, unless they constantly interchange 
their goods, their services, and above all their understanding. Had 
men remained as like unto one another as ox is to ox, men would have 
discovered only a small fragment of the potentialities of Man. No 
amount of inner probing could bring out the immense wealth of hu- 
man nature: to find himself man had as it were to divide himself into 
a thousand strands or skeins, each one of which would isolate some 
special aptitude and interest, carrying it further, intensifying its qual- 
ity by joining it to a similar aptitude or interest. It was through the 
social division of labor — a further transference to culture of the orig- 
inal division of labor between the sexes — that man unearthed many 
obscure inchoate capacities and brought them to perfection. 

The old saying, that it takes nine tailors to make a man, is far too 
modest: it takes not merely many tailors but all the professions, all 
the vocations, all the castes and classes and families, all the primary 
communities and purposive associations to make a man. All men are, 
in some sense, fractional and incomplete: a complete man would have 
to incarnate a whole society. ‘*Man” in that sense is purely a figment, 
for he would have to encompass future achievements as well as past 
ones. Thus human society, unlike animal societies, is an agency of 
self-consciousness and self-exploration and self-revelation. Man does 
not merely exist as an organic product: he makes something of him- 
self, and the making of man is the meaning of history. 

Had this process of self-transformation remained a purely biological 
one it would no doubt have been extremely slow and limited in all its 
possibilities. Suppose, for example, man had concentrated upon in- 
creasing his individual working capacity so little as two horsepower; 
along that line, he might have taken half a million years to effect, by 
selective breeding or otherwise, this tremendous change in his muscu- 
lar capacity. And when he had done so, he would probably have been 
much nearer to a glorified gorilla than to his present self, thereby 
losing various other highly valuable attributes, like sensitivity, flexi- 
bility, mobility, intelligence, by the way. 

By creating an extra-biological mode of inheritance, his “culture” 
or social heritage, man was able to produce extra horsepower first by 
his domestication of horses, and then, many times his original work- 
ing capacity by inventing machines, without altering a single organ of 
his body. Witii his transmitted skill in making tools and machines, 



and passing on knowledge by symbolic means, man has created wind- 
mills, water mills, steam engines, transformers, atomic piles, in the 
short space of two thousand years: these instruments meet man’s utmost 
needs for power far better than any conceivable organic adaptation. 

Essentially, a culture is an extra-organic means of changing man’s 
nature and his environment, without leaving indelible marks on his 
organism or curtailing his essential flexibility and plasticity. A heated 
house for winter living is the equivalent of the horse’s trick of ac- 
quiring a shaggT" winter coat of hair: an X-ray tube is the equivalent 
of acquiring a more penetrating form of vision — and so on. For thou- 
sands of years man’s non-material culture, mainly verbal, esthetic, 
and ritualistic, outpaced his technical culture. His habit of projection, 
symbolization, detachment, has enabled man to make many experi- 
ments whose bad results, if encountered in organic form, would have 
been fatal to the species. At the same time, it has given a certain dura- 
bility to insights and discoveries that would otherwise have vanished, 
perhaps, with the moment or the individual that produced them. 

Wliat Leibnitz said about the nature of the world itself, that it pro- 
vided the maximum amount of freedom compatible with order, might 
be said even more truly of human culture. By means of his culture, 
man transforms his environment, attaches new values to natural proc- 
esses, projects his own purposes on natural functions, and eventually 
fabricates a whole succession of new selves, interacting in highly in- 
dividualized communities, without committing himself irremediably 
to any single way of life or any single type of personality. 

Every human group, every human being, lives within a cultural 
matrix that is both immediate and remote, visible and invisible: and 
one of the most important statements one can make about man’s pres- 
ent is how much of the past or the future it contains. Since culture 
must be extraneous, or at least detachable, to be transmitted — ^though 
the detachment may take the form of a remembered precept, trans- 
mitted by word of mouth, or a motor reaction, like bowing, passed on 
by direct imitation — even the most immaterial form of culture never- 
theless has a physical aspect which cannot be wholly ignored, while 
every physical event that comes within human range has a symbolic 
aspect, which must be interpreted. 

Without interpretation, there would be no distinction between a peas- 
ant s partaking of bread and wine at an inn and his having bread and 
wine in Holy Communion at Church. As physiological performances, 
both acts are the same: in meaning, value, and purpose, they are as 



distinct as vegetarianism and cannibalism. In the organic view of 
human development, any part of man’s life or his environment may 
become an active element in his culture; and so of himself. By the 
same token, any part of himself may become operative in the external 
world: no single aspect of either personality or culture has any under- 
standable existence except in terms of the total life in which it shares. 
^"Mind and matter, soil, climate, flora, fauna, thought, language, and 
institutions [are] aspects of a single rounded whole, one total growth.” 
That perception of Charles Horton Cooley’s is fundamental to an un- 
derstanding of the nature of man. Nature is nature as brought forth 
and interpreted by man’s culture; and culture even in its most evanes- 
cent and ethereal aspects is still the culture of nature: the energies 
and vitalities man finds himself endowed with and supported by. 
Each is inconceivable except in terms of the other. 

Man lives and learns by many devices; but the most important of 
all his adaptations, the one’ that differentiates him from the brutes and 
has given him a large measure of dominance over nature, is man’s 
capacity for symbolic interpretation. That is not merely a key to 
knowledge and a key to self-fabrication: it is also a key to man’s 
activities and actions. Karl Marx quarreled with idealism and older 
forms of materialism because they were content merely to interpret 
the world: whereas he understood that thought, being a process of life, 
must also help transform the world. But he overlooked, in his polemic, 
the extent to which interpretation itself produces change: primarily 
by transforming the potentialities of the interpreter. 


The growth of conscious purpose and self-direction — all that is im- 
plied in the historic concepts of the soul and the person — was made 
possible by man’s special skill in interpreting his own nature and 
working his experiences into a meaningful and valuable whole, upon 
which he could draw for future actions and operations. That skill rests 
upon a special aptitude, embedded in man’s very physiology : the abil- 
ity to form and transmit symbols. Man’s most characteristic social trait, 
his possession of an extra-organic environment and a super-organic 
self, which he transmits from generation to generation without using 
the biological mechanism of heredity, is dependent upon his earlier 
conquest of the word. 



During the last century this essential fact about man’s nature has 
been obscured by the false assumption that man is primarily a “tool- 
using animal.” Carlyle called him tliat long before Bergson suggested 
that the term Homo Faber, Man the Maker, should replace Homo 
Sapiens. But man is not essentially distinguished from his animal rela- 
tives either by the fact that he lives in groups or performs physical 
work with tools. Man is first and foremost the self -fabricating animal: 
the only creature who has not rested content with his biological form 
or with the dumb repetitions of his animal role. The chief source of 
this particular form of creativity was not fire, tools, weapons, ma- 
chines, but two subjective instruments far older than any of these: the 
dream and the word. 

Without dwelling on the function of symbolization, one cannot begin 
to describe the nature of man or plumb the deepest spring of his 
creativeness. That is why I pass over many other attributes, fully taken 
into account today by anthropology and psychology, to dwell on man’s 
role as interpreter. Language, the greatest of all human inventions, is 
the most essential key to the truly human. When words fail him, as 
we find in the few authenticated cases of wild children reared without 
the benefit of human society, man is an animal without a specific life- 
plan, compelled to imitate the wolfish habits of the animal in whose 
brood he has been suckled and reared. 

One can, of course, only speculate on the way in which man in- 
vented and perfected the various tools of symbolization. But in the pri- 
mary instance of speech, the word was made possible by changes in 
the bodily organs including the larynx, the tongue, the teeth, and not 
least the creation of mobile lips: in the earliest skulls identifiable as 
man, the anatomists find the speech centers already relatively well de- 
veloped. The enlargement of man’s powers, through his quicker abil- 
ity to learn by trial and correction, demanded a special instrument 
for dealing with the multitude of sensations and meanings, suggestions 
and demands, that impinged upon him. Every sensation, as Adelbert 
Ames has experimentally demonstrated, is a prognostic directive to 
action: hence even the simplest stimulus must be interpreted, for 
whether we accept it or reject it depends not only upon its own nature 
but upon our purposes and predispositions and proposals. Even the 
purest sensation mml be translated and re-ordered, before the organ- 
ism will in fact see it, hear it, or answer it. In that response, the en- 
tire organism co-operates; and what is actually seen or heard or felt 



is only whaf makes sense in terms of the organism’s immediate pur- 
pose or its historic plan of development. 

At every moment of his waking existence, man senses, interprets, 
proposes, acts in a single unified response: but between the starting 
point and the end, the intermediate steps of interpretation and planful 
reorganization are critical, for it is here that error, miscalculation, 
and frustration may intervene. With the development of language, 
man created an instrument of interpretation that gave him a way of 
traversing the largest possible field of life. What he took in of the 
world expressed his own nature: what he expressed of himself par- 
took of the nature of the world; for it is only in thought that organism 
and environment can be separated. 

Now other creatures than man respond to immediate signals: the 
snarl of a dog has meaning for another dog, and the upraised white 
tail of a doe tells the fawns, as plainly as words, “Follow me!” But 
man, at a critical moment in his development, began to invent signs, 
in the form of audible words, which represent an event or a situation 
even when they are not present. By this act of detachment and ab- 
straction, man gained the power of dealing with the non-present, the 
unseen, the remote, and the internal: not merely his visible lair and 
his daily companions, but his ancestors and his descendants and the 
sun and the moon and the stars: eventually the concepts of eternity 
and infinity, of electron and universe: he reduced a thousand potential 
occasions in all their variety and flux to a single symbol that indi- 
cated what was common to all of them. 

Similarly, by kindred means, man was able to give form to and 
project his inner world, otherwise hidden and private: by words, 
images, related sounds, it became part of the public world, and thus 
an “object.” This extraordinary labor-saving device, for extracting, 
condensing, and preserving the most complicated kinds of events, was 
perhaps another manifestation of the creative uses of his exuberance 
and vital proliferation. Man’s possession of a “useless instrument,” 
his special voice-producing organs, with their wide range of tones, 
plus a love of repetition, which one observes in the fullest degree in 
infants, opened up playful possibilities. If man is an inventor or an 
artist, the first object of his interest is his own body: he falls in love 
with his own organs long before he seeks to master the outside world. 

“We must never forget,” the distinguished philologist Jespersen once 
observed, “that the organs of speech ... are one of mankind’s most 
treasured toys, and that not only children but also grown people in 



civilized as well as savage communities, find amusement in letting 
their vocal cords and tongue and lips play all sorts of games.” Out 
of this original organic overflow, man found too a way to shape a 
meaningful, orderly world: the world realized in language, music, 
poesy, and directed thought. The gift of tongues is the greatest of all 
gifts: in the beginning was the Word. 

Speech, human speech, aflfected a miraculous transformation in 
human society: by such magic Prospero tamed Caliban and released 
Ariel. Speech, at first probably inseparable from gesture, exclama- 
tory, disjointed, structureless, purely emotive, laid the foundation for 
a more complex mechanism of abstractions, the independent structure 
of language itself; and with language, human culture as an extra- 
organic activity, no longer wholly dependent upon the stability and 
continuity o-f the physical body and its daily environment, became 
possible. This broke through the boundaries of time and place that 
limit animal associations. 

In the behavior of that perpetual primitive, the human infant, we 
can follow the original transition from babble to the involuntary re- 
production of facial movements, from private gurglings for self-satis- 
faction to public demands in which a particular tone will be evoked 
to bring forth a particular response from the mother: the offer of a 
breast, the production of a dry diaper, the removal of a pricking pin, 
the reassurance of human companionship. Much of the intercourse 
between mother and child is the expression, on both sides, of feeling: 
tenderness, joy, rage, anxiety. Beyond doubt, the introjectidn and pro- 
jection of feeling were basic to the whole achievement of language: 
a point often overlooked by pragmatic or rationalist interpretations. 

In the instances of wild children nurtured by animals, we can verify 
this interpretation: for the ability to form words seems to disappear 
altogether when the infant’s earliest vocalizings are not encouraged 
by similar vocalizing on the part of those who look after him. With 
the loss of language man also loses the facility for more complex 
forms of human behavior: though some of his organic capacities be- 
come intensified to animal sharpness, in an extra-sensitive nose or in 
muscular endurance, the veritably human touch remains absent: above 
all, the wild child forfeits the capacity to understand or communicate 
human feeling, thus becoming inferioi, not only to other human be- 
ings, but to the dog or cat, who have had the benefit of human asso- 
ciation, and who have learned the gestures and tones by which human 
feelings are expressed. Negatively, there is still another way of imder- 



standing the specifically human role of language: for psychologists 
have found that deaf-mutism, even when combated with skillful care, 
is a greater handicap to intelligence than blindness. Speech, even 
though accompanied by blindness, opens the path of social co-op- 

In his attempt to associate intelligence with the special faculty for 
dealing with the geometrical, the mechanical, the non-living, Henri 
Bergson curiously underestimated the formative effect of language 
and over-stressed the part played by physical tools and mechanical 
aptitudes, for he perversely interpreted speech as being lamed by 
man’s rational preoccupation with static objects. On the contrary, lan- 
guage developed far more rapidly and effectively than mechanical 
tools ; and it was probably in origin primarily a means of representing 
labile feelings and attitudes, the least geometrical part of man’s ex- 
perience. The most important thing for a human being to know, from 
infancy onward, is whether he is welcome or unwelcome, whether he 
is being loved and cherished and protected or hated and feared; and 
the give-and-take of speech, with all its modulations of color and tone, 
provides these essential clues. Language was not invented by philoso- 
phers seeking truth or by scientists seeking to understand the processes 
of nature, nor yet by mechanics seeking to shape a more adequate 
tool; nor was it created by methodical bookkeepers seeking to make 
an inventory of the contents of the world. Language was the outcome 
of man’s need to affirm solidarity with his own kind. Because it was 
a prime organ, not only of social co-operation, but of sympathetic 
and dramatic insight, it helped to control and direct all human be- 

In time, no doubt, language lent itself to many other uses besides 
communion and fellowship: it gave rise to a sense of “thatness” as 
well as “we-ness” and furthered causal insight into processes and re- 
lationships. Not least, language was a means whereby subjective reac- 
tions became externalized, and objective facts became internalized: 
thus it favored constant intercourse and traffic between the public world 
and the private world. In every sense, then, speech was man’s prime 
instrument for sharing his private world with his fellows and for 
bringing the public world home to himself, though in time it was sup- 
plemented by the symbols and significants of the other arts. He who 
could speak the language could be trusted: every word was a pass- 
word, indicating friend or foe, in-group or out-group; and these prac- 
tices linger on in establishing identity right down to our own day. 



The practical and rational offices of language, which now seem to us 
all-important, must for long have been purely incidental. 

The complicated structure, the grammatical and logical subtlety, 
and the immense variety of even primitive languages drive one to be- 
lieve that a large part of man’s creative activity, perhaps for hun- 
dreds of thousands of years, must have concerned itself almost ex- 
clusively with the development of intelligible speech, and with second- 
ary means of symbolization through the visual arts; for painting, 
too, in the Aurignacian caves, shows an exquisite perfection that 
argues a prolonged period of unremitting effort. No machine that man 
invented before the twentieth century compares in complexity and re- 
finement with the simplest of human languages. No wonder this super- 
organic structure transformed the terms of man’s self-development. 

Beavers can build dams: bees can construct efficient dwellings: the 
meanest bird has still a surer mechanism for flying and landing than 
man has yet achieved. But no other creature has come within sight of 
man in the arts of symbolic communication. Mainly through language 
man has created a second world, more durable and viable than the 
immediate flux of experience, more rich in possibilities than the purely 
material habitat of any other creature. By the same agent, he has re- 
duced the vastness and overpowering multiplicity of his environment 
to human dimensions: abstracting from its totality just so much as he 
could handle and control. The very formal qualities of words served 
as an instrument for understanding and directing the everlasting flow 
of things: it is because the structure of language and logic is relatively 
static (Parmenides and Plato) that the unceasing changes and proc- 
esses of the natural world (Heraclitus) can be interpreted. If mean- 
ings changed as quickly as events, no event would have a meaning. 

Let us make no mistake then: language is far more basic than any 
other kind of tool or machine. Through man’s overdeveloped fore- 
brain and his overflowing sensory-emotional responses, he came into 
contact with an ever-enlarging field of action; and through language, 
he found an economic way of dealing with this complexity and turn- 
ing every state and activity to the service of meaning. So essential is 
language to man’s humanness, so deep a source is it of his own creativ- 
ity, that it is by no means an accident in our time that those who have 
tried to degrade man and enslave him have first debased and misused 
language, arbitrarily turning meanings inside out. Civilization itself, 
from the most primitive stage onward, moves toward the continuous 
creation of a common social heritage, transcending all the peculiarities 



of race and environment and historic accident, shared over ever wider 
reaches of space and time. This heritage, apart from environmental 
modifications, such as roads, canals, and cities, is transmitted largely 
in symbolic form; and by far the greater part of its symbolization is 
in spoken and written language. Contrary to the proverb, words make 
a greater difference than sticks and stones: they are more durable, too. 


In dwelling on the invention of speech, as the most universal form 
of symbolism and the most weighty vehicle of communion and com- 
munication, I have, for the sake of clearness, treated this form of sym- 
bolism as if it stood alone. But as a matter of fact, the symbol plays 
a much wider role in human life. From what we know of the present 
nature of man, we must infer that the spontaneous babblings out of 
which is shaped the word were accompanied by another primitive 
and unlearned trait, likewise welling up through that capacious, over- 
excitable organ, the brain: the habit of dreaming. Babble and dream 
imagery are perhaps the raw stuff out of which man fashioned all his 
symbols, and consequently, most of his ' meaningful life: music and 
mathematics and machines: social patterns of behavior and the culture 
of cities. 

Civilized man tends to associate dreaming most definitely with 
sleep: a sort of interior drama that goes on in the darkened theater 
of consciousness. He is occasionally not a little abashed when he be- 
comes aware of his own dream states in waking life, for they some- 
times displace his immediate sense of the external world; but he slides 
easily from the half-wakeful state of revery into the inner recesses 
of sleep where the events he experiences often seem more realistic, 
more gripping, more intense than any actual life provides. Indeed, in 
certain cases he may live a dream progressively, from night to night, 
and become a little confused as to which has the more dominant role 
in his life — as in the famous instance of Chuan^-Chou who. dreamed 
that he was a butterfly and then asked himself whether, in waking life, 
he was not perhaps a butterfly dreaming that he was a man. 

Even in the most highly organized and controlled personality, no 
little part of the working day is spent in acting an interior drama with 
snatches of dialogue and action surprisingly different from overt con- 
duct: these spontaneous associations have many of the characteristics 
of a dream, as James Thurber showed, with hardly more than a touch 



of exaggeration, in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. In daydreams 
mild men often become murderers and faithful husbands become liber- 
tines: perhaps half the sins and crimes men commit come about be- 
cause they pass too easily, without prudent reflection, from that inner 
state to the public performance of their fantasy. 

In childhood, perhaps even more in adolescence, daydreaming may 
occupy the larger part of an individuaTs waking hours, rivaling night- 
dreaming in its absorption and self -enclosure ; and very probably in 
primitive man there was far less of a gap between waking conscious- 
ness and sleeping consciousness than there now is. Against the cur- 
rent tendency to over-value the externalized and the objective, John 
Butler Yeats’ words are a fine corrective: . My theory is that we 

are always dreaming — chairs, tables, women and children, our wives 
and sweethearts, the people in the streets, all in various ways and with 
various powers are the starting point of dreams. As we fall asleep 
we drift away from the control and correction of facts into the world 
of memory and hope. . . . Sleep is dreaming away from the facts 
and wakefulness is dreaming in closer contact with the facts and since 
facts excite our dreams and feed them, we get as close as possible to 
the facts if we have the cunning and the genius of poignant feeling.” 

In normal people, we think of the waking consciousness as being 
more rational, more directed, more rigorous, more conventional, than 
the imagined behavior that takes place in sleep: this is largely true. 
But the life of early man was not so definitely organized into rational 
and irrational compartments; and though a certain wakefulness and 
alertness was necessary for his survival and would impose many prac- 
tical limitations on his behavior, the dream may well have occupied 
the greater part of his energies; and throughout much of his life fan- 
tasy perhaps had the upper hand over common sense. ' Possibly the 
primitive’s tendency to regard what we call insanity with respect, in- 
deed, with awe and reverence, is a survival of this fact. 

At all events, the notion that man’s days have been continually 
spent in the hard "^struggle for existence” is probably only another 
one of those subjective interpretations derived from the grim state of 
life under nineteenth century industrialism. We do ill to transfer these 
interests into the life of primitive man. In mechanical invention man 
was for countless years almost an imbecile, as helpless as a baby ; and 
after he had stayed his hunger, he did little to improve his general 
situation: his practical devices, his technical adaptations, his improve- 
ments of the environment were few and far between; indeed he was, on 



the evidence, incapable of sustained labor and easily diverted from his 
meager utilitarian pursuits except when hunger was pressing. All too 
quickly the primitive settles back into a dreamful lethargy; and his 
subjective world must often have loomed far larger than the visible 

Plainly, we know no more about the origin of the dream than we 
do of the origins of language. But we can speculate on the special 
role of the dream, in order to find perhaps a faint clue to later devel- 
opments. Given what we know of man’s organic equipment and present 
traits and aptitudes, there is some reason to think that the dream had 
two main sources. One was man’s extreme impressionability to both 
externally and internally aroused stimuli, so that the bodily changes 
which take place in fear, anger, and sexual passion, pouring their 
hormones into his bloodstream, may well leave traces in the cortex 
long after the immediate occasion has passed. The other source, aris- 
ing out of that very impressionability, would be — especially for primi- 
tive man — his constant anxiety. This anxiety was not solely of neu- 
rotic origin. With good reason, fear has left a deep mark on the hu- 
man race, for as man emerged from his animalhood, he had many 
occasions, particularly at night, to be fearful. Until primitive man 
had invented weapons and the means of organized social co-operation, 
he was a relatively defenseless animal surviving only by his sharper 
wits: he had hard work to hold his own among savage creatures that 
had natural weapons: tusks, horns, teeth, coils, poisons, far superior 
to anything in his own natural armory: some of them capable of work- 
ing in close packs like the wolf, the bison, or the elephant. 

With man’s highly evolved sensorium, the coming of darkness would 
redouble all the fears of the day instead of quieting them. Here the 
dream performed a special function: it maintained man’s persistent 
state of anxious alertness, yet it alleviated it and counteracted it. In 
the dream the power he lacked in reality would come back to him in 
a highly magnified form: denied his prey in the hunt, he would seize 
it in his dream; and though he might relive the fear he was forced 
to suppress, he might also awaken from the dream — as many an in- 
ventor has awakened since — ^with some new plan of action. Released 
from the constraints of practical necessity, the dream freed man from 
the fear-constricted routines and compulsive rituals on which his se- 
curity had been built: it was the sphere of spontaneity and untram- 
meled experiment. Much was possible in the dream that could not 
penetrate through the walls of daytime habit. So the dream was both 



a shock-absorber, cushioning man’s anxieties, and an uninhibited ex- 
pression of his inner self, releasing him from dull constraints and 
paralyzing compulsions. 

Should we do man an injustice, then, to characterize him as essen- 
tially the neurotic animal, subjected, in his earliest phases, to constant 
hallucinations, like those that even highly rational people quickly de- 
velop, for example, in the eerie darkness of a medium’s seance? We 
say that a person is ‘‘out of his mind” when he has, in fact, withdrawn 
completely into his mind; yet this over-valuation of the inner life may 
have been, in the end, the chief source of man’s outer mastery. On 
this hypothesis, man’s irrationality perhaps contributed as much to 
his departures from animal conformity as his mother-wit: it was man’s 
nervous apprehensions that gave hjs mind its peculiar bent and set: a 
readiness to re-organize his sensory experience on the basis of more 
perfect dream-images that conformed to inner desire as well as outer 
necessity. In the dream his obsessions and fears, his desires and lusts, 
but likewise his gropings and his aspirations beyond his brutish daily 
existence, would take on new shapes, almost independent of his vo- 

Escaping the restraints of practice, escaping also the inhibitions of 
his strict social code, the dream served as an agent of creative detach- 
ment. This special agent probably enabled man to surpass, not only 
his more torpid animal competitors, but also his own matter-of-fact 
self as it had been shaped to a degree by the conditions of organic 
life and physical survival. Man is the only creature who lives a two- 
fold life, partly in the external world, partly in the symbolic world he 
has built up within it; and the dream vies with the word in emanci- 
pating him from a constricted here and now. By means of the dream 
man learned to think and act more daringly than other, more stable 
creatures, better aware of their limitations and better adjusted to their 
natural state. 

More primitive, probably, than speech, dream imagery became the 
source and foundation of many other symbolic activities; for every 
man, while he is asleep, is an artist, creating shapes that his hand 
may not yet know how to execute; and dream- work may be the earliest 
form of work, in that it was perhaps the most simple way of re- 
making the environment and re-organizing purposive activity. The in- 
ventiveness and creativeness man displayed in the dream, first under 
pressure of anxiety and then more freely, in response to need, may 



be the main source of man’s more enduring activities in symboliza- 
tion^ indeed in his own humanization. 

In short, this rich spontaneous outflow of psychic material, a river 
of varying shallows and depths by day, a seething, spreading flood by 
night, gave man an extra means of reconstituting his life. For if sleep 
itself detaches man from the bodily events of waking life, the dream 
divorces him from all other conditions: it brings him out of his im- 
mediate world, with its constant diSiculties, frustrations, and anxie- 
ties, and shows him, in its more benign aspects, how the miseries of 
life can be counterbalanced and overcome. To this end, the psyche 
stows away material in the dark caverns of the unconscious, and de- 
livers it up, in new combinations, for creatively recasting the future. 
Because nothing is impossible in the dream, because nothing is in- 
credible, the dream enlarges the domain of human potentialities: the 
territory that is so reclaimed can in time be cultivated during the 
waking life. The fact that dream-images normally recur with the 
least relaxation of attention, the fact that they arrange themselves spon- 
taneously into dramatic and often purposeful sequences, irrational per- 
haps in content but creative, may well offer a master clue to the devel- 
opment of human culture. Even the most disciplined and directed kind 
of thought cannot do without the free associations of dream: Henri 
Poincare, the mathematician, has reminded us of this fact. Hence a 
failure to cultivate the inner life, a failure to do homage to the func- . 
tion of dream or to permit its untrammeled exercise, may also explain 
the lack of self-confidence and the imaginative paralysis that leads to 
the death of a civilization. People in that state can conceive no alterna- 
tive to their man-made catastrophes. They do not realize that the very 
power of conceiving alternatives might block the fatal advent of dis- 

Dream, hallucination, illusion — ^these are some of the means by 
which man was able to overcome his fears and to compensate for his 
inferiorities: at the moment he abandoned his animal securities and 
lost his organic connections with nature, the dream magnified his own 
image and restored his faith in himself. Admittedly, these self-begot- 
ten images and symbols may muddy the few clear moments of man’s 
daylight consciousness: even worse, man’s absorption in dream, pre- 
cisely because it brings him so swiftly to his goal, may have long stood 
in the way of his achieving that causal insight into non-personal na- 
ture which science, first in ancient astronomy, came to reveal. There 
is some reason to think that man’s exploitation and mastery of his 



subjective medium may have even retarded his practical mastery of 
the external environment: the wish that could be fulfilled in fantasy 
seemed hardly worth the further trouble of working out in the more 
refractory materials of wood and stone and fiber. This would suggest 
that tnan’s late achievement of mechanical invention rested upon his 
reluctance to suppress a good part of his dream life: Homo Faber, 
the tool-user, could not in fact develop until he was willing to give 
words and images an inferior role. 

Though at the beginning man’s skill in using symbols was respon- 
sible for emergence into a truly human state, in the end it sometimes 
constituted a grave handicap: for he would apply subjective symbols 
to matters where real mastery depended upon the use of objective 
tools: fire and earthquake and rain and crop growth cannot be con- 
trolled by runes and verbal formulae — though to a limited extent we 
know certain diseases can. No small part of man’s rational develop- 
ment consists in freeing himself from the misleading suggestions and 
the devious commands of his own undirected dreaming. So retarding 
was man’s dream consciousness, so easily did it lend itself to perver- 
-siop, that Dr A. L, Kroeber has properly taken, as a definite indica- 
tion of human progress, the transformation of the infantile irrationali- 
ties of primitive man into the relatively mature rationalities of mod- 
ern man. 

But after all these allowances are made, we can see that without 
the aid of dream and word mankind could never have escaped from 
the animal world of the here and now. For there is still another func- 
tion of the dream that must be taken into account: its prophetic or 
anticipatory nature. The dream is an organ of man’s inchoate desires; 
and no small part of these impulses must come to fruit in the future. 
Freudian interpretation has over-stressed, perhaps, the deviousness of 
the dream mechanism: its tortuous methods of concealing the impulses 
that it expresses. There is in addition a much closer connection be- 
tween need and dream-satisfaction which operates continually at al- 
most every level of waking existence; for the dream often represents 
the direct pressure of an unsatisfied impulse and points the way to an 
appropriate goal or to a line of action: sometimes to future alterna- 
tives of action. It is in the persistent recurrence of a particular hu- 
man image during even his waking hours that a person may become 
conscious suddenly of the fact that he or she has fallen in love: just 
as an adolescent first becomes conscious of bodily changes through 
the sudden onslaught of thinly disguised erotic images in dreams. Such 



dream-images become dynamic promptings to future behavior: and 
they further prepare the way for it by enabling the subject to enact 
in fantasy the divergent possibilities that life presents. Psychodrama 
is the essence of the dream. In the dream one acts alternative roles 
and releases oneself from the momentum of the past and the steady 
drive of habit: where in real life one’s practical intention may keep 
one pushing along a narrow track, looking neither to one side nor the 
other, in the dream one’s anima may give one wiser counsel; to accept 
life in its wholeness and depth: above all, the life to come. 


Those who try to understand the nature of man mainly by empha- 
sizing his continuities with other animal species, naturally neglect the 
organs and agents that set him off from those species: hence they un- 
derestimate his creativeness and originality. Their attitude is, no doubt, 
partly a reaction against the ancient misuse of the symbolic functions: 
the attempt to make words directly perform operations. In general 
modern man over-values the act and undervalues the word: did not 
Goethe himself, word-magician though he was, say: In the beginning 
was the Deed? 

Now language, as the vehicle of social solidarity, emotion, feeling, 
and thought often produces potent results on other human beings: not 
merely gross changes in behavior like those brought about via words, 
in hypnosis and suggestion, but a large range of minor modifications, 
every day and hour of our lives. To overlook this fact in the spiritual 
economy of the organism is like overlooking breathing in its physi- 
ology. It is the very success of symbolic functions in transforming the 
attitudes and the behavior of other human beings that has tempted 
man to misuse this magic: he has foolishly thought that it is possible 
to apply verbal formulae to alter the behavior of physical bodies. If 
the experiments of Dr Rhine and his colleagues in psycho-kinesis prove 
correct, even this propensity may not rest on a complete hallucina- 
tion; but it is obviously much easier to make one set of spots face 
upward in dice by placing them in that position than by using an 
extra-sensory factor to bring about this result: so man probably wasted 
on word magic much valuable effort that might, long ago, have gone 
into the invention of more appropriate methodology. Even the great 
Roman physician Galen supplemented his natural knowledge with 
spells and magic formulae. 



But man’s capacity for misusing verbalization is no reason for de- 
valuing the function itself. The various contemporary reactions against 
the full employment of language, from da-daism to logical positivism, 
will not in the least save us from error and self-deception: they merely 
substitute for the small detectable errors of misused speech the colossal 
error of rejecting the greater part of man’s subjectivity, because it comes 
to us primarily in symbols of a non-operational order: symbols that 
have as many meanings as there are contexts and internal states. Mod- 
ern man’s insulation against the poetic use of words as mere propa- 
ganda — irrespective of whether the attempt to persuade is based on 
truth or falsehood— can lead only to a general denial of the possi- 
bilities of growth or transformation in the self, except by a purely 
physiological process. But since medicine teaches us that there are 
no purely physiological processes, no part of the body that is not in 
some degree affected by mental states, that is, by images and symbols, 
this self-imposed immunization and impoverishment is also a self- 
deception. On this matter, the present argument sharply disagrees with 
all forms of behaviorism: it also differs radically from the analysis 
put forward by the late Dr Trigant Burrow, to whose works I cor- 
dially refer the reader. Where Dr Burrow sees in the use of language 
only division and distortion, I read mainly socialization and self- 

If all the mechanical inventions of the last five thousand years were 
suddenly wiped away, there would be a catastrophic loss of life; but 
man would still remain human. But if one took away the function of 
interpretation, by destroying the capacity to use language, an earlier 
human invention, the whole round earth would fade away more swiftly 
than Prospero’s vision: insubstantial and dreamlike, without fhe words 
that arrest it and order it into widening patches of significance and 
value. Worse than this: man would sink into a more helpless and 
brutish state than any animal: close to paralysis. In the case of brain 
injury through accident, or in senile decay, one gets final proof of the 
key place occupied by man’s symbol-using functions. Where there is 
a breakdown of tissue in the brain, sufficient to wipe out large areas 
of memory, an aged person will sometimes say: “My sight is poor; 
I am getting blind.” Actually, medical examination may prove that the 
eyesight remains excellent; so what the afflicted person means is: “I 
am losing the capacity to understand what I see: it no longer makes 
sense to me.” Once a person ceases to function symbolically, a water 
tap would be merely a visible tube of brass, but would not indicate 



water, and the nearby glass on the shelf would not, however close the 
physical association, suggest a method of bringing water to the lips; 
while pictures or verbal texts that represented these objects would be 
even less effective in prompting the right actions in response to thirst. 
The researches of Dr Kurt Goldstein leave no doubt on this score. 

Almost all meaning above the animal level of response comes 
through abstraction and symbolic reference: in fact, the symbolic 
medium — ^verbal, musical, graphic — is the very one in which man, 
as man, lives and moves and has his being. The invention of the symbol 
was not merely the first great step from the organic to the super-or- 
ganic: it also led to the further development from the social to the 
personal. Without constant reference to essences, as represented by 
symbols, existence would become empty, meaningless, and absurd — 
which is, precisely, what it seems to the mere existentialist. But what 
the existentialist, in horror and despair, finds lacking in the world, is 
merely what is lacking in his philosophy. Once one throws over sym- 
bols and essences as Captain Ahab threw over compass and sextant in 
his effort to come to grips with Moby Dick, the empty malice of un- 
focused energy, taken into the soul as a paranoid impulse to destruc- 
tion, is all that will be left. When one begins by defacing the word one 
ends by defaming life. That is part of the plight of modern man. 

The symbol-making activities of man, speech and dream, have 
turned out, then, to be more than tools, and they have until now played 
a far larger part in human life than his technical mastery of the natu- 
ral environment, through weapons and machines. Dreaming is the dy- 
namic, forward-striving, goal-seeking complement to remembering. 
While man’s organic and social memory, through monuments and 
books and buildings, opens up for him the large resources of his past, 
the dream pushes his life forward to a more varied future, not given 
in either nature or his own history: the next moment, the next lifetime, 
the next century first comes to him in images of foreboding and hope: 
he sees a future pre-formed by the self, obedient to man’s emergent 
nature, capable of projecting into public forms the hidden soul. 
Through the dream, man offsets his sense of guilt and anxiety, caused 
by his willful departure from his animal destiny, by his effort to set 
himself up in rivalry with nature and to put forth an independent 
creation, more responsive to his nature and desires than the actual 
world. So it is not an accident, but the very essence of human life, 
that some of its best and its worst moments are lived exclusively in the 



mind: anxiety and anguish, joy and fulfillment, are never so pure as 
they are when represented in art: ‘‘emotion recollected in tranquillity.” 

But note: through the mechanism of the dream, both directly and as 
elaborated in the arts, man surpasses his simple biological self both 
ways: upward and downward, bettering and worsening his natural self, 
embellishing and yet often defiling his environment. Long ago he de- 
parted from his ancestral home, in order to spend most of his years 
in two resorts of his own devising: heaven and hell. Man’s very devil- 
try is a product of the same imagination which first represented his 
own utmost potentialities in the image of an all-wise and infinitely 
loving God. On this interpretation, literature, music, religion, those 
artful by-products of man’s subjective life, are no less integral a part 
of man’s existence than the natural world and the ingenious instru- 
ments he has devised for mastering it. 

In other words, the dream is no mere mechanism of escape, but the 
foundation of man’s own specific mode of life: the life that emerges 
in the person out of his stolid animal limitations and his compulsive 
social controls. However much we admire, with Whitman, the content- 
ment and aplomb of animals, our own life-course is a more defiant and 
daring one, defiant to the point of madness, but enlivened, in its con- 
tradictions, its disparities, its absurdities, by a sense of comedy, which 
recognizes, with a, wry grimace, how far his godlike pretensions have 
fallen short: how impulse has hardened into habit, how gesture has 
frozen into tics and compulsions, how every leap upward has ended, 
at last, in a clownish fall. But out of man’s very maladjustment, pro- 
moted by his concentration on his inner world, he has achieved a deeper 
consciousness of existence, and eventually an ampler sanity arxid-baU 
ance than dumb animal existence could achieve. When mankind gave 
its days over to babbling and dreaming, life took a new path, at right 
angles to the horizontal plane of organic survival. For no promethean 
fire has ever burned so steadily or so brightly as the flame man first 
lighted within himself. 

What holds of the dream holds in almost equal degree of the word. 
Every part of the “real” world, from the wooded mountain top to the 
towered city, has become material for man’s symbolic activities, and 
gains in visibility, and usability, through man’s capacity to interpret 
it and re-fashion it in his mind. Even the photographic image of the 
remotest star bears the imprint of man’s subjectivity: this pin-point 
of white on a dark ground becomes more than that only through the 
operation of a complex structure of interpretation that man has built 



Up since the time of the Chaldean star-gazers. As soon as any part of 
the external environment, natural or man-made, ceases to further man’s 
purposes, it ceases to have meaning, and even when it remains in sight 
it falls out of mind: witness what happened to the Roman baths once 
the Christian fathers condemned the ritual of bodily care that they 
subserved. Once a structure ceases to have meaning, men will quarry 
it for stone, as readily as they would quarry into an open hillside: 
witness again the assault on Gothic buildings in eighteenth century 
France. So, too, a change in the direction of human interest, an in- 
terior subjective change, could wreck New York as destructively as an 
atom bomb. On the other hand, even a ‘'Worthless” natural object — a 
martyr’s lock of hair or the fragment of Java man’s skull — may ac- 
quire value through the projection of meaning upon it: in this case, it 
will be guarded tenderly from generation to generation, as if it were 
a precious work of art. 

At every moment, thanks to our symbols, we are nourished by other 
lives that have flourished and faded, leaving behind only an appar- 
ently wraithlike deposit of words and images, on paper, stone, or cellu- 
loid: a story memorized, an observation recorded, a line skillfully 
drawn, a formula condensed in special signs. What man is and does 
passes away: what continues in existence is the ever-enlarging struc- 
ture of interpretation derived from history, and stored, sifted, trans- 
mitted, from generation to generation: that is the capital fund that 
makes human productivity and creativity, indeed the very capacity to 
become human, possible. Since man not only lives his life but repre- 
sents it to himself, since he not merely accepts the order of nature but 
re-fashions it in his mind, the very subjective elements that destroy 
his animal harmony contribute to his creativity. Man is happiest when 
he feels that all his frustrations and struggles, though often painful, 
may have significance: he is unhappy, on the contrary, when he be- 
lieves that even his most pleasurable fulfillments may be meaningless. 
Whatever else man’s social heritage has done for him, its chief func- 
tion has been to lay a stable foundation of values, meanings, and pur- 
poses beneath his life-sustaining activities. 

Against the long-prevalent view that man is but an insignificant 
speck in a sterile, depersonalized universe, the present philosophy 
holds that it is the physical universe that is insignificant until man 
emerges from it and lakes possession of it and interprets it in terms 
of his own past and future. Apart from man’s purposes and values, a 



grain of dirt is as important as a planetary system: without man both 
are in fact non-entities. 

Man, in other words, is the agent through which natural events be- 
come intelligible and natural forces valuable, since events and forces 
may be increasingly directed, in accordance with man’s own plan of 
life, to their human, and eventually their divine, destination. While 
this fact makes man an active mediator it does not turn him into a God. 
Apart from mind and spirit, word and dream, man’s powers are in 
fact smaller than the forces acting upon him; and he is accordingly 
at their mercy: a change of a few degrees upward or downward in the 
body’s temperature will bring about human death. Tliis philosophy 
conceives the role played by man as interpreter as the apex of natural 
existence: the quintessence of all that has gone before, the embryonic 
vehicle of developments and fulfillments that lie far ahead, Man’s 
ability to interpret the world truly, with insight into potentialities as 
well as causes, gives the measure of his ability to transform it. 

Man, in his full historic dimensions, encloses the primitive and the 
sophisticated, the infantile and the mature: he lakes into himself limes 
past and times to come, places near and places distant, the seen and 
the unseen, the actual and the possible. What was once called the ob- 
jective world is a sort of Rorschach ink blot, into which each culture, 
each system of science and religion, each type of personality, reads 
a meaning only remotely derived from the shape and color of the blot 
itself. Like Brahma, man himself is the slayer and the slain, the 
knower and the known, the creator and the creature of a world which, 
tliough it encloses him, he also transcends. Though he did not fabricate 
the world he has colored every part of it by his consciousness and re- 
constituted it by his intelligence. 

If man has surpassed his animal destiny, it is because he has util- 
ized the dream and the word to open up territory that cannot be reached 
on foot or opened up with ax or plow. He has learned to ask questions 
for which, in the limits of a single lifetime or a single epoch of cul- 
ture, he will never find the answer. Each civilization treats that terri- 
tory, boundless and almost impenetrable, as in some significant way 
the coeval of its familiar homeland: it represents the sum of things 
worth living for and worth dying for: the values and purposes that not 
merely evoke a higher life, but even justify death itself, through whose 
foreknowledge, applied to the affairs of the moment, man further over- 
rides his animal limitations. As zero and infinity give him a sense of 
possibilities he cannot reckon with the aid of his ten digits, so his 



heavens and hells bring to light otherwise hidden potentialities of his 
earthly existence; and the ideal is accordingly the fourth dimension 
of every structure he builds. 

This sphere is the realm of religion: the sphere beyond knowledge 
and certainty, where ultimate mystery itself adds a new dimension to 
meaning. Out of the silence of infinite space comes a sound: the birth 
cry of human consciousness. Against the enveloping darkness man 
throws the searchlight of his intelligence. As man projects further the 
cone of light, through his gifts of interpretation, he likewise widens 
the perimeter of the surrounding darkness. The ultimate gift of con- 
scious life is a sense of the mystery that encompasses it. 




If there were general agreement as to the nature of man and the 
purpose of life, it would have been unnecessary to attempt preliminary 
definitions. But unfortunately even the sciences that deal directly with 
man cannot, within their present framework, provide such agreement: 
for their conclusions assume the validity and sufficiency of their par- 
ticular method of inquiry. In its quest for certainty, science keeps to 
the broad, visible, neatly edged paths and avoids the obscure thickets 
of subjectivism: this means that it rejects, as either indecipherable or 
negligible, a considerable part of mankind’s experience. Because such 
science can predict future behavior only in terms of the known past, 
it must leave out many potentialities not so determined; and because 
it deals with statistical order, it has tended to reject the unique and the 
non-repeatable, though such events may powerfully affect the course 
of human development. 

Up to now the sciences have sought limited answers to limited and 
isolated problems: they have not concerned themselves with the pat- 
tern of the whole. Religion historically preceded science in attempting 
to interpret the cosmos and man’s part in its processes; and it has 
worked on a radically different set of assumptions, although at various 
points, in their early development, the paths of science and religion 
coincided. Because of its reliance on subjective revelation, religion has 
dared to include whole tracts of human experience that escape the sci- 
entific net, no matter how fine the mesh or how skillful tlie casting. 
"Turpose,” ^Value,” ^‘free will,” ‘‘potentiality,” “ideal,” and “final 
goal” have had, until today, no place in the scientific description of the 
physical world, whose special mode of interpretation was developed 
in the seventeenth century. But these concepts and categories are so 
essential for an account of human experience in its entirety that their 
absence from the original scientific world picture — an omission over 




which positivism once took pride — is enough to make one doubt either 
its accuracy or its sufficiency. That doubt is now confirmed in the most 
advanced departments of science. 

Religion, as I shall here define it, is a body of intuitions and work- 
ing beliefs that issue out of that part of man’s nature and experience 
which science, deliberately seeking piecemeal knowledge of an im- 
mediately verifiable nature, rejects. For the questions that religion 
asks are not concerned with particulars but with the whole: not spe- 
cific questions as to What and How? but questions of the widest gen- 
erality and the most teasing elusiveness: Why? Wherefore? For what 
purpose? Toward what end? Religion seeks, in other words, not a de- 
tailed causal explanation of this or that aspect of life, but a reasonable 
account of the entire sum of things. 

All the transient phenomena, of life and civilization and the human 
personality religion sets against the cosmic perspectives of time and 
space. The concepts of infinity and eternity, which are not verifiable 
by piecemeal observation, have been the very core of the higher re- 
ligious consciousness: so at a period in culture when the scientific mind 
was still bogged in the materialism of the four elements, earth, air, 
fire, and water, a Pytliagoras or a Plato sought to deduce from har- 
monic mathematical relationships a clue to a deeper pattern of order. 
In its widest reaches, religion concerns itself with the impenetrable 
substratum of reality; with what, from the standpoint of science, is 
unknowable: the mysteriiim tremendum. 

In terms of positive science, most of the questions religion puts are 
unanswerable questions; and for the conventional scientist, still im- 
prisoned in a partial, mechanistic ideology, they represent illusory 
problems. The very vocabulary of religion is regarded by many sci- 
entists as nonsense, because it cannot be turned into the Basic English 
of operationalism. So much the worse, then, for the limitations of the 
scientific method: primitive tribes and little children, who dare ask 
the same unanswerable questions, are in practice wiser, for they are 
not inhibited in their concern with the whole, and are not embarrassed 
in the free utterance of their bafiiements, their forebodings, their hopes. 

Once man achieves consciousness, there is no way of casting off 
these questions or of evading a provisional answer, without repressing 
an essential quality in life itself. Even when men try to evade any 
concern with ultimate issues, by losing themselves in the day’s work, 
filling their spiritual emptiness with excesses of food or drink, or with 
a surfeit of esthetic sensibility and abstract knowledge — for there are 



gluttons and drunkards of the spirit, too — they are still haunted by 
the specters of themselves and by their relation to the universe: the 
selves that might have been: the selves that still may be. 

Such people may, like the elder Karamazov in Dostoyevsky’s novel, 
seek to lose themselves in squalid love affairs, and may deliberately 
scorn and mock those who seek to confront the mystery of their being, 
as old Karamazov sniveled and grimaced before Father Zossima: yet 
the very intensity of their reaction only shows, perhaps, the depth of 
the human need. If human life has no purpose and meaning, then the 
philosophy that proclaims this fact is even emptier than the situation 
it describes. If, on the other hand, there is more to man’s fate and his- 
tory than meets the eye, if the process as a whole has significance, 
then even the humblest life and the most insignificant organic function 
will participate in that ultimate meaning. 

We shall never get to the bottom of man’s nature and his present 
dilemmas, unless we realize that he is, to begin with, the kind of 
creature who has persistently asked such ultimate questions about him- 
self and the universe: indeed he is so thirsty for this order of truth 
that he will swallow it in almost any degree of dilution or adulteration. 
And so far, let us confess, those questions are wiser than all the an- 
swers, From the beginning man views life, above all his own life, with 
a mixture of curiosity, humility, and wonder: he claims the Unknown 
as his province and the Unknowable as his object, for the reason that 
he realizes that the true condition of man is “‘beyond him,” and that 
the fate of man is not entirely in his own hands. 

Man’s answers to these mysteries were bound by the very terms of 
his own finite nature to be inadequate. However penetrating his vision, 
whatever man finds out about the all-enveloping world must be only 
so much of it as he can encompass within his person and culture: 
an infinitesimal sample in space and time. Almost certainly, his sense 
of the whole came forth at only a late date in his evolution and is 
plainly one of his most fragile and imperfect achievements. Yet each 
one of us, in some degree, resonates to the world as a whole, and picks 
up and transforms waves that come from distant transmitting stations: 
we hear their noise in our receivers, perhaps, long before we have 
learned the code or are able to spell out any part of the message. But 
because man has sought to project himself beyond the here and now, 
because he has been willing to traffic with the inactual, the unknown, 
the mysterious, he has had a better grasp of cosmic processes than a 
more limited, down-to-earth attitude would have given him. The little 



questions, for which there are definite answers, have an important 
practical function: yet it is only within the larger frame that they are 
fully significant* Nothing can be settled until everything is settled. The 
first step in the re-education of man is for him to come to terms with 
his ultimate destiny. 

Each culture has developed its own way of putting these ultimate 
questions about man’s nature and fate ; and has assigned special values 
to the experiences symbolized as God, eternity, immortality, being and 
non-being. The answers to these questions differ in innumerable de- 
tails; yet they all point to a common substratum of human experience 
which is none the less real because language is so inept and ineffec- 
tual in coping with it. Most of the more naive conceits of theology are, 
to a great degree, impatient attempts to picture, in familiar terms, 
more obvious forms of continuity between the known and the unknown, 
between the immediate and the whole, the manifest and the mysterious, 
than the facts warrant. Yet without some recognition of the whole, the 
part played by earthly life would be almost as meaningless as the 
severed hand, in Aristotle’s famous illustration, if one did not know 
its normal connections with the human body: the organ, by its very 
existence, implies the organism it serves. 

Just as the anatomist, given the fragment of a human skull, can re 
construct with reasonable certainty many other characteristics of the 
head and even the rest of the human body, so the religious mind, re- 
peatedly plumbing the depths of human experience, may have a faint 
twilight perception of the constitution of the universe itself; though no 
finite mind will ever grasp it fully or exhaust all its possibilities till 
the end of time: for time, in all its organic and human implications, 
is part of what must be revealed. Man’s deepest needs prompt him to 
this exploration: the very concept of the stellar universe, as enveloping 
man’s lifetime and persisting beyond it, came from man’s deliberate 
attempt to give a rational account of his own appearance and acts, his 
birth, his ordeals, his triumphs, his frustrations, and his final disso- 

Even a false picture of man’s cosmic relations — and no picture can 
be free from many finite human errors — may give a closer image of 
reality than no picture at all. Granted that man overestimates his 
powers and over-values his own organs: granted that he often gives 
too absolute a value to his individual life and its prolongation: granted 
that he freely projects his own passions and animosities upon the uni- 
verse itself, as Dante did in his vision of the Inferno — ^there is still 



more of the cosmic process in these distorted pictures than in the neat 
mathematical frame of positive science, which disdains even to place 
a picture within its boundaries. Partiality and persistent error in a 
field of genuine interest are more active paths to truth than indifference. 


Man has told himself many stories about his origin and his destina- 
tion. Two things are common to these myths: they reflect, with simple 
childlike unconsciousness, the humble details of his daily life; and 
they recognize the existence of agents and forces he has never beheld 
with his eyes or seized with his hand, though in one fashion or an- 
other he has had to account for their activities. Admittedly, man can- 
not discard the suggestions of his immediate environment: the land- 
scape of his daily life envelops his fantasy. If he suffers from heat, 
like the tribes of the desert, his Hell will be an eternity of fire and 
brimstone: if he gets lost in exploring the limestone caves of Attica, 
his Hades will be a cold, pale underground world where half-living 
souls move about in the leaden light: if a volcano dominates the plains 
below it, as in Hawaii or in Mexico, the fiercest and most powerful of 
his gods will spring from that volcano. 

This naivete is not easily put away, even by modern science. If one 
translated the abstract symbols of present-day materialism into the 
concrete images that most closely fit them, we would behold a vast 
automatic assembly line, without a designer at one end or a product 
at the other, along whose conveyor belt machines assembled themselves 
by accident and were broken up by intention (fatal law of entropy!) 
only to re-enter the process once more as belts, shafts, or carburetors, 
at some point in the assembly line: the gains and losses of this process 
being accurately tabulated by automatic electronic calculators in a 
non-existent accounting department. 

But these myths have another side to them: neither the quality of 
man’s environment nor the pressure of his daily animal needs fully 
accounts for their wide scope or their remarkable power of abstraction 
and detachment. They pose unanswerable questions; or rather, they 
suggest answers that can be verified in part only by being lived: yet 
the single life span of the individual man cannot, since the questions 
concern the cosmos, provide any positive answer. Consider these un- 
answerable questions, as they come down to modern man from a dis- 
tant past. 



Is man a mote lost in the infinite vistas of time and space, the help- 
less sport of random forces, the product of indifferent elements, the 
prey of hostile energies, crippled by savage encounters with Moby 
Dick — all moving in some cosmic Brownian movement? Is he a smok- 
ing candle with a charred wick, giving no light beyond the pale of his 
own little niche: a poor flame flickering in a wind that will speedily 
extinguish it? Do his feebleness and his physical insignificance make 
a mockery of his gigantic exercise of mind; and is this mind of his 
itself but an accidental infection on the blank face of matter, soon to 
be absorbed in vaster physical processes? If so, the only way out of 
man’s presumed littleness and helplessness would be to use the feeble 
light itself, the conscious rational mind, as Bertrand Russell in his 
youth suggested, to contemplate without hope the greatness that mocks 
it. The myth is that of materialism; the decision, stoicism. 

Or is man the center of all cosmic intentions? Is he, in fact, tlie 
prodigal offspring of a loving Deity, who has defied the will of his 
Eternal Father and gone astray? Has he through his willfulness thrust 
himself out of his Garden of Eden, where he was at one with all crea- 
tion, in order to eat the apple of the tree of knowledge, the apple that 
made him conscious of his short span of individual life and his ap- 
proaching death; and is he thereby condemned, in his battle against 
death, to work by the sweat of his brow, laboring ere the night cometh, 
instead of growing serenely like the lily of the fields? 

Does man’s nature, then, partake both of the earthly and the divine, 
but is it steeped in an original sin that springs from his pride and self- 
love; and is he thus lost and damned forever until divine intervention 
redeems him? Does man, condemned to daily toil to get his bread, 
riddled with disease, racked with pain, prone to error and evil, have 
no true fulfillment on earth? Is it provided that the answers he seeks 
here and now will be found only if he prepares himself for another 
world and turns all his hopes and aspirations there? Does he begin his 
true life only with death: the passage to a life eternal, where he will 
enact a new role, not subject to earth’s burdens — or alas! to its stimu- 
lating challenges — so that he will spend eternity solely in the blissful 
contemplation of God? 

That is the myth of Christianity; and with variations, the myth of 
every other after-worldly religion, which shifts the center of gravity 
from the earth to heaven, from tlie kingdom of life to the kingdom of 
death. For Plato this palpable world was a cave of darkness where 
man was but a prisoner, forced to spend his days with his back turned 



to the light: so that all he knew of the verities that lay outside the 
cave were but the shadow reflections cast upon the wall. The world of 
his senses was thus a kind of nonsense; and the world unreachable by 
his senses, but divined with the aid of logic and mathematics, was that 
in which his deliverance and the final significance of his life lay. 

Or is man a being chained to an eternal cycle of recurrence, in 
which he slowly, with many backslidings, climbs upward in the ladder 
of being? Does he live in a world where by pious observances of ritual 
and by progressive spiritual detachment he may ultimately dissociate 
himself from his animal needs and his exorbitant capacities for pain 
and misery, concealed even in his briefest pleasures and joys? May 
he thus escape from the dismal cycle of animal existence: may he, 
even while he is on earth, by strict efforts and disciplines, cast off 
his animal role and unite wdth the source of all energy and life, 
blessed through spiritual exercises by ineffable illumination {sattva)^ 
which those of lesser faith and more sluggish energies {tamas) will 
accomplish for themselves only through a long series of reincarna- 
tions, till they, too, become part of llial Being wdiich is also Non- 
Being. This is the core of the discipline of many forms of asceti- 
cism and withdrawal. United to this conception of many hierarchies 
of being and godhead, as in Hinduism, or to a depersonalized universe, 
as in Buddhism, this notion of the cosmic role of man, as a casting off 
of his animal limitations and a final re-union with Brahma, takes ac- 
count of every stage of inertia and illumination; yet leaves one with 
the unaccountable irrationality of the performance itself. 

These classic answers about the human predicament themselves 
raise further questions about the nature of man. Is man merely a 
paranoid animal, haunted by delusions of grandeur, unwilling to co- 
operate with the forces that assign to him a more humble position than 
he fancies he occupies: or is he in fact the offspring of Prometheus, he 
who stole fire from Olympus, claiming for man that which was once 
the sole possession of the gods; and are his delusions of persecution 
not altogether imaginary ones, since the emergence from his animal 
state brings disabilities that animals themselves have not yet achieved 
and the gods, so to say, have passed beyond? 

Does man live only from day to day, walled in by animal needs he 
can never escape, and accordingly never more absurdly limited than 
when he fancies he has stepped out of this modest role: a creature con- 
soling himself for his low estate and his niggardly inheritance by 
seeking pleasures that will never satisfy him and creating willful illu- 



sions that, in his own heart of hearts, he recognizes as little better than 
the toys and dolls of his childhood: vital lies, puppet creatures of his 
own fantasy? 

Or again, is man, if only a frail reed, still, as Pascal said, a thinking 
reed: adding to the universe by his very presence something that with- 
out his aid, despite countless eons of groaning in travail, it might never 
have brought forth? Are his sensibilities and his feelings nothing? 
Are his knowledge and his consciousness nothing? Does their rarity, 
as one sweeps over the whole range of cosmic forces and events, make 
them less precious or less significant? If his god is but the enlargement 
by thousands of diameters of the power, the love, the knowledge he 
has developed through his own evolution, is that divine quality itself 
less real because of this? ' 

Perhaps, beyond the scope of these myths and parables, there is 
some larger purpose and some deeper significance in man’s life than 
any of his historic questions have hinted, or any of his historic an- 
swers have proposed. For the more that positive knowledge advances 
in every realm, from nuclear physies to the inchoate world of the un- 
conscious, the more one begins to detect an underlying pattern, an 
emerging order of design: a pattern and order through which freedom 
supervenes upon necessity, purpose upon chance, and the person him- 
self upon the cosmos that envelops him. These questions, at all events, 
with many parallel ones, are the questions originally set by the classic 
religions; and though the nature of the cosmos itself keeps any of the 
answers from being final, the very act of translating these intuitions 
into acts and observances, into rituals and codes and disciplines for 
the daily life, yes, into governmental systems and technologies, has 
itself given a new form and content to human existence. If every in- 
stitution is the lengthened shadow of a man, as Emerson observed, 
every man bears a mask upon his face; and that mask is the counte- 
nance of his god. 

The belief that man’s life is not an insignificant local phenomenon, 
but a meaningful and progressively intelligible part of a cosmic proc- 
ess, is common to all the higher religions: the religions by which the 
most fully developed and most numerous groups of mankind have 
lived. Since it represents an experience deeply grounded in human 
history, this intuition is not Ifghtly to be rejected: indeed, from the 
standpoint of the present philosophy, it must not be rejected at all: 
for Man is wiser than men, and the conscious knowledge of any single 



generation cannot be compared for trustworthiness with the funded 
experience of mankind. If life is what is at stake, then it should be 
plain that when men think and feel and act, in relation to an overall 
cosmic pattern, life flourishes and men grow to fuller stature: as they 
do not flourish and grow when man’s life is held to be no more than 
the grass that is shoved into the oven and burned. 

Man’s biological survival, we know now, is actually involved in 
cosmic processes and prospers best when some sense of a cosmic pur- 
pose attends his daily activities. Man’s positive knowledge of these 
processes and purposes is but a film that supports him as the skin on 
a glass of warm milk supports a fly: he must rest lightly on the surface 
or perish. When he seeks to drink from the liquid below, he will find 
further nourishment, no doubt; but it is included in the fact of his 
own nature that he will never drain the glass dry: measured by his 
flylike capacities it is in fact fathomless, and at best he may hope that 
the samples he takes, at various intervals, will reveal something about 
the constitution of what lies beyond his capacity to take in. That depth 
of mystery is at once a frustration and a compelling incentive to man’s 
activity: being godlike, he must seek to penetrate it; being finite, he 
must accept failure. 

The other side of the cosmic mystery issues from the nature of man’s 
own limitations. If in some fashion he embodies the creative forces of 
the universe, he also carries within him, through his continuity with 
the physical world itself, all those countervailing tendencies summar- 
ized in the law of entropy: for life defies this downward tendency, but 
at last succumbs to it. Eventually, man must come to terms, even as 
individual men must, with his creatureliness and his finiteness. Noth- 
ing that man does endures: none of the values man seeks, none of the 
purposes he fulfills, none of the knowledge he acquires, is altogether 
imperishable: the very nature of life itself is to be precarious, in- 
secure, frail, vulnerable, evanescent. When man tries to apply some 
fixative to keep the color of his precious picture from rubbing off, he 
falsifies the color in the very act of preservation and thus loses what 
he seeks to keep: so every attempt to transpose life into etp.rnity, by 
stone monuments, laws written on tables of brass, or pious repetitions, 
also arrests life and eventually destroys it. 

Only by constant reproduction and renewal can life endure: this is 
true in the biological realm and equally true in the realm of spirit. 
In beauty and truth and goodness man finds his highest satisfactions: 



the whole experience of the race attests this fact; and to crown these 
qualities with love is to come as close to the pinnacle of human experi- 
ence as is possible. But does man fulfill these high possibilities of ex- 
istence? On the contrary: no small part of man’s activities results in 
the defacement of beauty, the misappropriation of truth, the miscar- 
riage of justice, the perversion of goodness. This potential god, in 
other words, has a devil in him; his worst suspicions about the universe 
are confirmed by his own persistent misbehavior. Thus man’s life for 
all its godlike qualities is plagued by perpetual contradictions between 
his pretensions and his acts: not least between his cosmic intuitions and 
his more sordid daily occupations: ^‘getting and spending, we lay waste 
our powers.” No small part of man’s activities by their very repetition 
smother those moments of illumination in which man finds himself 
exalted — and fulfilled. 

Plainly, man must come to terms with himself in some fashion, be- 
fore he can understand the world or transform his own nature, in con- 
formity to ever higher ranges of purpose, ever higher standards of 
value. No small part of the office of the classic religions has consisted 
in penetrating man’s illusions about himself: in breaking down his 
rationalizations of his own misconduct, in exposing his pretenses and 
hypocrisies, in bringing home an appropriate sense of guilt over his 
failure to fulfill his own potentialities, and in helping him to overcome 
his animal inertia; since too often he is content to fall back to the 
survival level of his species, instead of pushing upward to the higher 
transformations of the person. Religion, even to such a prudent natu- 
ralist philosopher as John Dewey, is essentially the ‘‘sphere of the 
possible.” The function of the classic religions, as one finds them in 
history, is to confront the paradoxes and contradictions and the ulti- 
mate mysteries of man and the cosmos: to make sense and reason of 
what lies beneath the irreducible irrationalities of man’s life: to pierce 
the surrounding darkness with pin-points of light, or occasionally to 
rip away for a startling moment the cosmic shroud. 

In brief compass, I shall try now to appraise this contribution, in 
order to bring out certain common elements which will remain a per- 
manent contribution to every adequate philosophy of human life. In 
so far as the traditional religions have given expression to these ele- 
ments and have shaped our response to them, they will, I believe, like- 
wise help express and shape the new -personality and the new culture 
that must emerge from our present chaos of creeds and ideologies. 




Because of the narrow time-limits of his own life, it is natural that 
man should think of the universe itself as having a beginning and an 
end. Too easily, he conceives of cosmic events as having been set in 
motion by forces similar to those that intervene in human life. Man 
himself, as Vico observed, can understand things well only by creating 
them; so in the effort to understand llie universe, he was disposed, in 
conformity with his own nature, to assume a creator who stands out- 
side his creation and commands it. In an effort to arrive at intelligibil- 
ity, man placed both the physical agency and the moral responsibility 
upon the gods, or upon the centralized authority of a single God; om- 
nipotent and omniscient figures who, in their turn, were the reflections 
of the more mundane control and leadership exercised by the priest- 
kings of the earlier civilizations in which the high religions first flour- 
ished. These were naive presumptions and gratuitous explanations; 
but natural. 

So conceived, as encompassing the universe yet outside it, as mov- 
ing but unmoved, as immanent in all its creatures yet separate from 
them by unspeakable distances, towering above them in awful perfec- 
tions and finalities, God himself has become more of a problem than 
the problems his existence would solve. In order to come closer to this 
mystery, man has then conceived God in more human shapes that are 
themselves equally contradictory and self-negating: as Yin and Yang, 
as Hora and Osiris, as Eternal Male and Eternal Female, as omnipotent 
power and all-embracing love: as the phallic principle of fertility and 
as the divine seed that is buried in the earth in the dying year and 
resurrected with the awakening of the vegetation in the spring. In one 
aspect, God is unpicturable fathomless immensity, the nameless one; 
and in another, he becomes incarnated as Krishna the Archer, as Bud- 
dha the Illumined One, as Christ the Saviour. In all these forms, God 
both accounts for the existence and completes the meaning of human 

Historically, the sense of the divine is almost inseparable from 
man’s sense of his own destiny; for nothing about his life is more 
strange to him or more unaccountable in purely mundane terms than 
the stirrings he finds in himself, usually fitful but sometimes over- 
whelming, to look beyond his animal existence and not be fully satis- 
fied with its immediate substance. He lacks the complacency of the 



Other animals: he is obsessed by pride and guilt, pride at being some- 
thing more than a mere animal, guilt at falling perpetually short of the 
high aims he sets for himself* Behind this strange discontent lies his 
persistent belief, visible almost from the time that the presence of 
man can be identified by burial mounds, that the course of life does 
not fully reveal man’s meaning and destiny: that all existence has goals 
and ends, still almost impenetrable, which in their further unfolding 
will give fuller meaning to the cosmic solitude and the frustrating 
brevity of man’s life. Even now these ends are difficult to approach 
by pure speculation; and no wonder: could the earliest one-celled or- 
ganism anticipate the eventual emergence of a multi-celled, highly or- 
ganized, self-conscious creature, living in a world re-made in part 
through his own arts, in colonies and partnerships whose complexity 
had no parallel in the primal ooze? 

This sense of the divine is an historic fact of man’s nature: no theory 
that ignores it or explains it away can do justice to all the dimensions 
of human existence. What is gratuitous on man’s part is the belief that 
he has any positive knowledge of cosmic intentions or any definite 
clues to the ultimate goals of this process. WTiat he too confidently 
characterizes as divine revelation is often premature and presumptuous. 

But for man’s life to have meaning and purpose, one need not con- 
ceive that any part of it existed predetermined, foreordained, from 
the beginning of time: still less that time itself has a beginning or an 
ending. Every step in the process of cosmic evolution, no matter how 
plausible the connections, how closely related the stages when one 
looks back upon them, may be a magnificent series of improvisations, 
in which each emergent element, iri its very novelty, may suggest a 
still further step not even dimly defined at the earlier stages of the 
process. As the action proceeds, it becomes increasingly significant, 
gathering meaning and value as a snowball gathers bulk and momen- 
tum when it rolls downhill. 

The universe, like man himself, who is continuous with it, may he 
in the midst of a process of self-fabrication: chaos shaking down into 
order: order providing a basis for pattern and purposive transforma- 
tion: purposes diverging into alternative routes, leading to disengage- 
ment and detachment from biological compulsions, and so finally to 
human freedom. To suppose that this is the work of a detached author, 
' who has written the script and has supervised the performance, is to 
go far beyond the warranted evidence; while to suppose that it is an 



aimless accretion of accidents is to claim a iar greater miracle for 
materialism than religion has ever claimed for God. 

Plainly, it is man’s littleness that has prompted him to affix his own 
special interests and preoccupations, often of the most limited range, 
to cosmic and organic processes. We must discount these anthropomor- 
phic projections, even when they appear in the sterile laboratory garb 
of science. Wliat is at fault is not our sense of mystery and divinity, 
for this rests on valid translations of human experience: we err merely 
in our effort to cast this intuition in a too-familiar mold, in order to 
pass more freely from the known to the unknown. Our mistake has 
been to regard the process of development as being predetermined at 
either the beginning or the end : we have looked for an enclosed system 
witli a single cause at the beginning, a single consummation at the end. 
But the tendency toward organization, development, life, personality 
does not in fact become wholly intelligible by tracing it back to its 
origins: the climax of meaning lies, in all probability, in the future. 

In other words, a large part of man’s nature and destiny must be 
taken on faith; and the groundwork of that faith is no firmer in sci- 
ence than it is in religion. The equation of life cannot be solved more 
quickly by sneaking a look at the answer in the back of the arithmetic 
book. Improvisations and surprises are as deep in tlie grain of reality 
as necessity. If the creative power knew the answer beforehand there 
would be no reason to work it out. 

Now the classic religions have not erred in holding that a sense of 
the divine alters every other perspective in human life. That is a fact 
of experience, not universal, perhaps, but confirmed in some sense by 
even the crudest cultures : only an occasional arrested culture, like that 
of the Eskimo, seems to exhibit a certain cosmic color blindness here. 
On the present interpretation, however, religion has so far erred in 
identifying God with totality of existence or being; or, worse, in trying 
to make God the groundwork of all processes and events; the all-power- 
ful and all-knowing providence. By placing God in a position of active 
responsibility for the cosmic processes, or for man’s special existence, 
almost every system of theology has saddled itself with false dilemmas, 
and seeking an answer to the unanswerable, has come up with childish 

For mark this: if one puts God at the beginning, as the creator of 
all things, he becomes a monstrous being, as the God of the Old Testa- 
ment in fact seemed to the sensitive Manichees, who took note of his 
irrational angers and his bloody commands long before Voltaire. That 



God is a god of matter, bestiality, darkness, and pain: not a god of 
love and light. If, on the other hand, one attempts to unbind deity from 
responsibility for having produced a world half lost to the powers of 
darkness and death, by promising some redemption, at least for man, 
in an eternal future which will balance up accounts and make love 
prevail: if one does this one seems to turn a brutal god into a demented 
one, a creature capable of condemning human beings to an eternity of 
torture for sins committed in the briefest of lifetimes: a savagely dis- 
proportionate system of punishment repulsive to reason and justice. 
If the God who permitted the slaughter of the innocent in the Lisbon 
earthquake shocked Voltaire, what would he have said to the God who 
permitted his creatures to invent the insane horrors of Buchenwald and 

Neither faith nor reason could bring such complete defilements and 
miscarriages of life within the compass of human acceptance, if a 
divine purpose actually presided over all the occasions of human life. 
Plainly, if there is a loving God he must be impotent: but if he is 
omnipotent, truly responsible for all that happens within his domain, 
capable of heeding even the sparrow’s fall, he can hardly be a loving 
God. Such contradictions drive honest minds to atheism: the empty 
whirl and jostle of atoms becomes more kind to human reason than 
such a deity. 

Is the sense of divinity, then, a mere figment of the imagination, a 
radical misinterpretation of the elements man finds in his own nature? 
No: it is only as an over-ruling benevolent providence that the divine 
is a figment. Our logic is at fault in assigning God to the wrong end 
of the cosmic process. The universe does not issue out of God, in con- 
formity with his fiat: it is rather God who in the long processes of time 
emerges from the universe, as the far-off event of creation and the ulti- 
mate realization of the person toward which creation seems to move. 
God exists, not at the beginning, but at the end: we shall not find him, 
except in an incredible degree of tenuity in the earliest stages of the 
formative process; for he first disclosed himself in a self-revealing 
and identifiable form, only in the human heart, as a truly personal 
God. There are, however, many dim foreshadowings of the divine 
throughout the animal world: without the lower forms of order and 
purpose in nature, the higher forms he tends toward could not be 
achieved. Suppose, then, that God is not the active creator, as con- 
ceived in the Sacred Books, the Vedas and Korans and Bibles: suppose, 
rather, that he is the ultimate outcome of creation; so that the Kingdom 



of God, latent in nature, is the ideal consummation of the whole proc- 
ess. That assumption, I submit, makes be Her sense. 

If one puls God at the beginning of tlie whole cosmic transformation, 
one adds to the present irrationalities of life, I repeat, the even deeper 
mystery and irrationality invoked by the explanation itself. At that 
point, the only answer to man’s most insistent problems is the peremp- 
tory one given to Job: ‘T am that I am:” which means ‘'Stop asking 
unanswerable questions!” But if one finds God at the other end of the 
process, not as the foundation wdiich underlies the whole structure of 
life, but as the still unfinished pinnacle lliat may ultimately crown it, 
the world’s development and human life itself begin to take on a ra- 
tional form; for man’s business becomes not so much the mere con- 
templation as the active creation of the divine. In the light of the 
eventual destination, even earlier steps in development, hitherto mean- 
ingless or valueless, even insensate and irrational, become through 
this divine foreboding more significant. Begotten in the human soul 
itself, but never fully at home there, the divine comes as a further step 
in man’s detachment from his animal beginnings: a step beyond that 
taken through the development of culture itself. This unfinished, still- 
evolving deity has never dominated the universe and is not responsible 
for its present condition: far from it But because of his emergence, 
nature, itself may undergo an otherwise unthinkable transformation. 

Something like this was in William James’s mind, possibly, when 
he conceived God as a limited being, needing our help. If one con- 
tinued, in the vein of the classic religions, to believe in God’s omni- 
presence and omnipotence, one would be forced, in order to retain one’s 
reason and one’s reverence for his benign manifestations, to close one’s 
eyes to the thousand ugly incidents of life that confound any attribu- 
tion to this being of either supreme intelligence or unfaltering love. 
^^Did he who made the lamb make thee?” Distressed by the gritty facts 
of human experience, the mystic thrusts the world of sense impatiently 
aside in order to reach God directly and bathe in the presence of his 
glory and illumination. Tliat is perhaps a happy transitory adjust- 
ment; but it hardly reconciles the awakened soul to the frustrations 
aud evils of life even at its most prosperous moments, to say nothing 
of the potential horrors that civilization, by its very advances in sci- 
ence, now holds before us'i The “Perennial Philosophy” buys its ob- 
livion too cheaply, by treating as. mere illusion that part of man’s 
existence which it is most difficult to assimilate to reason and love: it 



thus turns its back on the love and pity men need in order to maintain 
its own inner poise. 

As soon as religion, in fact, makes its God the creator and all-wise 
author of the universe, it must either gloze over the evils of existence 
at the expense of truth, or it must invoke another principle, equally at 
work in the universe, which brings the creator’s work to naught, defac- 
ing his creatures and defaming his beneficent intentions. Sheer logic 
thus drove many of the classic religions to the invention of the Devil 
or the Destroyer, the mythical equivalent of the second law of thermo- 
dynamics, who undermines all the constructive activities of life. As 
Kali, as Ahriman, as Satan, as Loki, the devil personifies an inescap- 
able fact of human experience: the fact of de-building, disorganiza- 
tion, degradation. 

William Morton Wheeler’s discussion of Emergent Evolution is 
exemplary, because he fully reckons with these possibilities of Abbau^ 
or de-building; whereas various modern attempts to unify every aspect 
of man’s experience by using a one-directional formula of process and 
organization, like that of Mr Lancelot Whyte, come partly to grief, 
because they must either deny the polar alternatives of goodness and 
badness, of development and deformation, or fail to give an adequate 
account of these downward tendencies. To the extent that the higher 
religions have allowed for the fact that integration and disintegration 
go hand in hand, their mythology is less untrue to the facts of life 
than the Marxian description, which sees process as working in a single 

A sound philosophy, it seems to me, must embrace the facts of hu- 
man experience hitherto represented in the symbols of a creative god 
and a destructive devil: the one directed toward greater fulfillment of 
life, the other tempting it to lose sight of its higher goals and regress 
to lower planes of evolution. But for the sake of clarity, one should 
combine these ambivalent cosmic forces into a single figure, applicable 
to all natural processes; and not confuse two-faced Nature with the 
emergent aspect of divinity, which derives from the fuller develop- 
ment of the human person. 

When one treats God, then, as the symbol for a new emergent, com- 
ing at the very last stage of all observable development, one 'has a 
foundation for an inescapable fact of human experience, which would 
otherwise, if God were in fact omnipotent and responsible, be highly 
disconcerting: namely, that so far from being omnipresent and all- 
enveloping, divinity is the rarest attribute of human existence. So rare, 



SO intermittent, indeed, is the presence of divinity in human affairs that 
when it appears in any heavy concentration, it becomes the center of 
a new way of viewing the world and acting in it, in the person of an 
Ikhnalon, a Moses, a Zarathustra, a Buddha, a Confucius, a Jesus; and 
ivhen such a person appears, a whole society takes on a new shape and 
reveals new possibilities in thought and action and the general conduct 
of life. In diffused and diluted forms, these potentialities for freedom 
and creation are always at work, in some degree, in every community. 
But their intervention is so rare that, when they decisively come forth 
and work tlieir special transformation, they set human history on a 
new course. 

Unfortunately, that manifestation of an emergent divinity is fragile 
and precarious: so powerless to preserve itself, that not a single re- 
ligion has been able to save itself from either corruption or mummi- 
fication at an early stage. Even while Moses was among the Jews, 
journeying through the wilderness, his fellow tribesmen turned to the 
worship of brazen serpents instead of Elohim, the unrepresentable, the 
unfathomable, the voice in the burning bush. That story stands for a 
hundred similar degradations in the history of every great religious 
impulse: witness tlie transformation of Jesus’s essential doctrine and 
example by the Church that preserved it. The divine may be constantly 
radioactive; but the human isotopes, which divinity has quickened, 
have but a short life. 

Now possibly a life-conserving inertia is at work here. If God were 
actually dominant, it would be as if radium were as heavily distributed 
in the earth’s crust as iron: his presence might well consume the uni- 
verse and blast the life it had come to bless. But the actual situation 
seems just the reverse of this. Only flashes and glimmers of godhood 
appear in history, usually mingled, like radium in pitchblende, with 
vast quantities of baser stuff. Yet those visions of higher forms of ex- 
istence, of new potentialities for development, if fleeting, are likewise 
so intense that when they appear they quickly impart their light and 
heat to a whole society; for when man finds them in his consciousness, 
he feels nearer to the purpose of his being than at any other moment 
of his life. 

God, in this sense, points to an order beyond the limitations of natu- 
ral existence, of biological survival, or even of a purely human ful- 
fillment. Yet all the genuine manifestations of God are so uncertain, 
so unpredictable, that his presence has often been counterfeited for 
purely mundane purposes: his name has been invoked, too often, to 



sanctify inertia and to rationalize regression. Though everywhere men 
have organized institutions and erected buildings to guard their vision 
of divinity and to re-awaken faith in man’s divine possibilities, a faith 
too often shaken by the trials of life, it is not through buildings and 
ceremonies, not through the scribes and the Pharisees, nor yet through 
the Levites, that this service is most fully performed. 

Notwithstanding its intentions and its sacred mission, religion, I 
must emphasize, is open to degradation: perhaps more so than any 
other human activity. So the apparatus of salvation becomes one of 
the main obstacles to its own achievement: the doctrines of religion 
become a device for egoistic assertion, on the part of a tribe or a caste, 
rather than an agent of universal purposes, dissolving all hostile man- 
made claims and privileges. 

Too readily in history, religion, instead of addressing itself to the 
general condition of man, has lent itself to buttressing the position and 
privilege of the ruling classes, preaching humility to those already in 
humble circumstances, instead of to the proud, and resignation to the 
victim rather than to his oppressor, as Luther did in his denunciations 
of the downtrodden peasants who revolted. Even where these per- 
versions have not become flagrant — and what civilization has been 
immune to them? — there are many inner obstacles to the search for 
the divine. For divinity, by its nature, cannot be decanted into a bottle 
and safely corked: it comes like a flash of lightning or like the faint 
perfume carried on the summer breeze from a distant meadow. Every 
attempt to capture divinity in some permanent form ends by imprison- 
ing the spirit of man. 

Thus God, as I seek here to interpret human experience, is not the 
foundation of human existence: he is the pillar of cloud by day and 
the pillar of fire by night that lead men onward in their journey toward 
the Promised Land. Yet because man finds in himself an occasional 
spark of divinity, because fitfully a tongue of this flame may illuminate 
a whole life, man may logically and honestly interpret the entire proc- 
ess of organization and organic development as having, in future, an 
end other than a mere increase in complexity and heterogeneity. If the 
universe, as the physicists now suppose, has taken some three billion 
years to come forth out of chaos and old night, God is the faint glim- 
mer of a design still fully to emerge, a rationality still to be achieved, 
a justice still to be established, a love still to be fulfilled. 

In the best representatives of the human species, God becomes mani- 
fest in a profound discontent, an impulse toward perfection, a purpose 



severed from self-preservation or self-inflation. At the fullest stage of 
development, man achieves detachment and transcendence: something 
both playful and purposive delivers him from his hard physical neces- 
sities, or the humiliating limitations of his animal drives. Though con- 
ditioned to social existence, he may withdraw from society or defy its 
lower claims in the interests of a higher development, as Francis of 
Assisi or Thoreau did: though tethered to the will-to-live, a deeper 
loyalty may cause him to elect death, rather than animal survival, as 
both heroes and martyrs have often done, valuing life intensely, but 
valuing the god life has brought forth even more. 

Religion develops out of this faith in the meaningfulness of human 
experience, set against the background of cosmic mystery: faith in the 
reason that underlies all the irrationalities of existence, faith that a 
divine purpose, still struggling into existence, will finally prevail. 


Every culture has sought, in terms of its own special situation and 
experience, for a provisional answer to the unanswerable questions 
that religion propounds. Some cultures, like that of the ancient Greeks, 
were mainly oriented toward life; others, like that of the ancient 
Egyptians, were oriented toward death; still others, like orthodox 
Hinduism and orthodox Christianity, have attempted to encompass 
both aSirmation and rejection, the secular here and the holy hereafter. 
But in spite of many points of divergence and contradiction, the his- 
toric religions share, in fact, large areas of agreement: so large, so 
substantial, so significant that the current attempt to reject religion it- 
self, as a meaningless survival, infected with superstition, calling for 
surgical removal, like a diseased appendix, rests on a more question- 
able dogma than the dogmas it questions. Freud’s attitude toward tra- 
ditional religions was, perhaps, but the jealousy of a prophet who had, 
up his sleeve, a religion of his own: a Wagnerian mythology with 
Eros and Psyche in the roles of Tristan and Isolde, seeking death 
alone in their lover’s cave. 

Let us now mark the points where the classic religions come to- 
gether. All religions, to begin with, lengthen man^s time perspective: 
they bid him pay attention to more than the vanishing moment and 
the passing years. Sometimes, as with the Jews, religion emphasizes 
long biological continuities: it promises that the injustices or frus- 
trations of the single individual’s lifetime will be redeemed by the 



further history of his tribe or his species on earth; or, with a sounder 
naturalism, it notes that the sins of the parents may be visited upon 
the children, even unto the third and fourth generation. In other civili- 
zations, as with the Egyptian, time passes into eternity and the receding 
perspective of the dark, halls of death occupy the imagination more 
than the lighted antechamber of life: the finiteness and frailty of the 
individual life is thus counterpoised by a cult of the after-life: a life 
whose quality is supposedly determined, at the day of judgment, by 
the character of one’s behavior on earth. In this version, developed 
further by Christianity and Islam, all the individual’s actions are pre- 
paratory and incomplete: without immortality, according to this creed, 
life on earth would lack significance or adequate compensation for its 
evils and injustices. 

Such an indefinite prolongation of life, one may remark in passing, 
would paradoxically bring to an end the very conditions of life that 
set it off from brute matter: life eternal is in fact a contradiction in 
terms. But religion’s repeated insistence upon eternity and immor- 
lalily must have had, in the earlier stages of human development, a 
salutary practical effect: for this attempt to give the individual life a 
cosmic perspective offsets the natural foreshortening of time that takes 
place under biological pressures and passions, when man is tempted 
to sacrifice his true destiny for minor immediate goods: greedily to 
prefer his present mess of pottage to his birthright. ‘‘Leave now to 
dogs and apes: man has forever.” Those words of Browning’s sum 
up the very essence of tlie religious view of lime; and most of man’s 
durable achievements rest on that foundation. 

For man, future potentialities are present realities; indeed Mowrer 
has experimentally demonstrated that “the essence of integrated be- 
havior is the capacity to bring the future into the psychological pres- 
ent.” One cannot doubt, on the evidence of history, that a certain 
degree of detachment from momentary impulses and short-term gains 
is essential for human development. For one to do his best in a situa- 
tioq whose outcome he cannot surely predict or wholly by his own 
efforts determine, or for one to perform the necessary duty of the 
moment, though tliat duty is an unrewarding or positively repulsive 
one, demanding heavy sacrifices, it is necessary for him to widen his 
time boundaries: to act as if he were in fact immoital. That discipline 
was morejmportant for man’s development than a more realistic in- 
terpretation that would have denied the possibility of immortality 
in any kindred and comforting earthly form. Whether this sense of 



time was bestowed through the cult of family, as with the Chinese 
or the Jews, or through the hope of personal survival, as with the 
Zoroastrians, the Manichees, the Christians, and the Moslems, it be- 
stows on each individual episode a new significance, making it part 
of an indefinitely prolonged hereafter. 

The religious cycle of time is a cosmic cycle: it embraces centuries, 
millennia, eons. That telescopic view both diminishes the claims of 
the individual moment and enlarges its ultimate significance. Such a 
view contrasts with the sacrilegious American jibe: ‘‘Wliy should we 
do anything for posterity? When has posterity ever done anything 
for us?” In religion, the time that signifies most is the time tliat can- 
not be measured: the place that counts most is tliat which is never 
seen. When those convictions are uppermost, man’s purposes embrace 
the greatest range of possibilities and can make the most of them. 

Besides this orientation to the timeless, religion brings with it the 
practice of constant reference, not to man’s works and days and habi- 
tations alone, but to the cosmic whole. If this is not true of the more 
primitive religions, with their localized deities and tlieir narrow thea- 
ter of operations, confined to a river valley or a city, it remains for 
the most part an essential characteristic of the higher religions. On 
this interpretation, religion presented in mythic terms, long before 
biology began to trudge slowly over the same ground, the image of 
the great web of life: the interdependence and mutual support of all 
living creatures, with the further dependence of life itself upon the 
sun and possibly even remoter cosmic energies. Hinduism has per- 
haps the deepest and richest insight into these universal kinships 
and co-operations: it was not by accident that a Hindu physicist, 
Jagadis Bose, not merely measured the sensitivity of plants but dis- 
covered the first traces of response in metals. 

The fabts of mutual aid and of man’s total involvement in the uni- 
verse were first outlined by religion; and this outline has only been 
confirmed in essentials by the multiplicity of details and the rich 
palette of colors with which the sciences, during the last three cen- 
turies, have filled in the blank spaces. Man is, in fact, the microcosm 
that religion first conceived him to be: he is involved in a long inter- 
play of processes which reaches from the distant sources of cosmic 
rays to the innermost recesses of man’s soul, from the widest stretches 
of time and space to the sensorium in which the universe is, in sym- 
bolic form, reflected and transformed. 



No less important than its orientation to the whole is religion’s sense 
of the sacredness of life. To the act of fertilization, the begetting of a 
new life, religion in its primitive stages correctly attaches a profound 
value: an age tliat makes free with contraceptives loses that sense at 
its peril. In the magnification of the phallus and the female organ, 
the magic transmission of strength and potency, the deliberate culti- 
vation, in the corn rituals that underlie so much of the higher religions, 
of the moment of sexual abandon and surrender, when union is 
achieved symbolically through eating and drinking the body of one’s 
God — in all these terms religion proclaims the sacredness of sex, as the 
source of life’s own continuity, and as the organic creative act that 
lies at the base of man’s remoter creative acts. 

Sometimes religion’s magic prescriptions record the fear of this 
power as well as the impulse to worship it; witness the frequent put- 
ting away of the menstruating woman, not merely as unclean but as 
uncanny, and so inimical. Sometimes it attaches to the sexual act it- 
self a special religious value, as in the dedication of a whole class 
of women, in many religions, from that of Ishtar to her Hindu equiva- 
lents, to temple prostitution. For tliese early cults, sterility was a 
curse and a punishment: potency and fertility were themselves attri- 
butes of godhead. Horus and Osiris: Isis and Serapis: Cybele, the 
Great Mother and her lover: Dionysus, god of corn and wine, who 
rouses his followers to sexual frenzy and abandon: in all these myth- 
ical representations the essential sacredness of sex, as a universal 
power, not to be lightly held, was made manifest. Man’s sexuality per- 
vades his whole life; and under various metamorphoses and sublima- 
tions it spreads through the higher religions, taking many forms, from 
that of Mithra and tlie Bull to the Virgin Mary. The mysteries of 
generation lie at the gateway to religious explanations of man’s lot 
and destiny; and the rites of marriage and birth, or the countervail- 
ing rites of abstention and withdrawal from the duties of procreation, 
become attached to the religious conception of man’s role and even 
to the possibilities of divinity; for it is out of sex, in the dual roles 
assumed by the passionate lovers and the compassionate parents, that 
the gospel of love itself was bom. Here ecstasy and union: there de- 
tachment and sacrifice. 

But the sense of the sacredness of life comes from another source, 
too: the crisis of death. Man is the only creature in whom the antici- 
pation of death alters his present actions, and in whom the memory 
of the dead lingers so powerfully as to haunt his dreams and invade 



liis working moments, frequently with images of overpowering con- 
creteness. In some sense, the dead are still alive; yet the living like- 
wise must partake of death even before their life reaches its natural 

Long before Socrates observed that the task of philosophy is to 
prepare one for death, religion made this its chief concern. Not merely 
did the early religious cults care for the dead body; but they sought 
to circumvent the finality of the soul’s departure by providing it sym- 
bolically with the means of sustenance on its long journey; while out 
of that journey into the unknown itself they conjured up many homely 
comforting details, and released, at the final destination, all the de- 
sires for bliss that life itself had denied: not least of course the desire 
of those who have found happiness, that life should have no ending. 
The historic date for the appearance of these brave fantasies can be 
fixed in at least one civilization; for in Egypt we can follow the ex- 
tension of what was at first the special privilege of immortality from 
the Pharaoh, as the first real person, and a manifestation of his god, 
to his court favorites, and finally, by a steady process of extension 
to people of lesser rank. This mode of democratization did not, 
perhaps, become quite free from restrictions till the advent of Chris- 
tianity, when the same consummation was offered, for good conduct 
and timely repentance, to every human soul, slave or free. 

Now this affirmation of death often led, as in Egypt, to a serious 
sacrifice of the claims of the living. The building of tombs depleted 
wealth and energy that might have improved the life of men in cities. 
In what sense, then, has that orientation been an affirmation of the 
sacredness of life? 

ThQ answer is not far to seek. If life prospered in all its manifes- 
tations, the pleasure principle might well dominate it: out of an over- 
flow of sexual exuberance, the beautiful forms of life, forever caress- 
ing and embracing and conceiving, would swarm through existence 
as they do on the w’'alls of the Ajanta caves. But there are in fact many 
desolate negative moments in life, observable even in its most fortu- 
nate stretches. The de-building principle is at work, along with the 
creative, at every moment of man’s existence: his life is in fact a 
series of little deaths, and it is out of man’s experience of illness, in- 
jury, depletion, corruption, that religion dramatizes its final negation, 
death itself, and affirms as real and significant that which seems to 
deny the reality of life and destroy its significance. 



Man needs no special schooling to embrace life, when it emanates 
in health, energy, erotic love, joyful dilation and expansion: when ihe 
juices flow harmoniously, he ‘‘who knows, as the long day goes, that 
to live is happy has found his heaven.’’ But there is another side to 
life, no doubt over-stressed in times of trouble, but too blandly over- 
looked in the optimistic utilitarian and romantic philosophies of the 
last century: the negative pole of existence, just as real as the positive 
pole, particularly on the descending curve of life. This part of life 
must be faced and embraced too: an arduous discipline. 

By the time men reach middle age, even the seemingly fortunate 
have some inkling of this experience; for illness, the impairment of 
bodily organs, or psychic disintegration come in some degree sooner 
or later to all men: so too with the loss of one’s friends and neighbors 
or the death of one’s beloved — all recurrent events in human exist- 
ence. Death comes to every household. No Shakespearean apothecary, 
no unctuous mortician in the Hollywood style, can heal those ills. 
Often the worst of these evils have nothing whatever to do with one’s 
individual deserts: Job and Oedipus both bear witness to this fact. 

Since man cannot evade these negations and irrationalities, reli- 
gion affirms their final significance. By bringing death consciously 
back into daily life, the religious mind gives a positive role to the 
most dismaying conditions in man’s existence. Here is the essential 
explanation, I believe, of religion’s apparently perverse concentra- 
tion, as upon an aching tooth that cannot be removed, on sin and sor- 
row and pain and death. No liberalism in theology can liberate one 
from these profound encounters with the forces that limit and curtail 
life, threatening it with utter defeat: sooner or later some scheme of 
redemption or transcendence must be proposed. 

When vitality runs high, death takes men by surprise. But if they 
close their eyes to this possibility, what they gain in peace they lose 
in sensibility and significance; and not least, they then leave them- 
selves unarmed for more serious encounters and more dire defeats. 
One of the classic missions of religion, accordingly, is to search for 
values in that part of existence which man, in his purely animal pre- 
occupations, would turn away from, as almost all other animals in- 
curiously turn away from their own dead. Anticipating the fact of 
death, never losing sight of it, religion restores to the person a sense 
of his true condition; and when he reaches the downward curve of 
life, it helps make the spirit ready to accept its fate with resignation, 



if not with positive hope. Only those who face these negations reach 

Humility, sacrifice, detachment, like faith, hope, and charity, must 
count among the theological virtues: they belong to the waning phase 
of life, as pride, generation, and attachment belong to the waxing 
phase. Man often reaches his best understanding of the ultimate pur- 
pose of life when he finds himself in a situation where he must will- 
ingly choose his own death or accept that of the one he most dearly 
loves. Yet for the parent, for example, whose young child has gal- 
lantly lost his life trying to rescue a drowning playmate, that deeply 
painful moment will forever count as one of life’s true consolations: 
too sacred for bitterness. 


If death is the ultimate gauge of religious belief, sacrifice is its 
chief representative in the sphere of action. To determine how much 
we value an object, we must ask: How much are we ready to give 
up for it? If it goes to the root of our being there may come a moment 
when we are ready to give up everything. 

To modern man, for the last few centuries, sacrifice has seemed a 
primitive and repulsive act, a form of devil worship as Herbert Spen- 
cer put it: how infantile to offer one’s God seasonal fruits and liba- 
tions, or present one’s precious child to the fiery furnace of Moloch! 
Those who live, as they fancy, guided by the dry light of science, 
contemn these irrational practices: yet we have gods of our own that 
are no less exacting. As an offering to the god of Speed, the American 
people sacrifice more than thirty thousand victims every year. With 
such a record, we can hardly afford to look with such cold repugnance 
on allegedly more primitive practices. But when, after severe examina- 
tion, we find that a particular sacrifice is justified in our own con- 
science, we become aware of its religious significance. For there are 
moments when our self-respect would be undermined if we failed to 
make the sacrifice. In the very nature of existence we shall find a 
basis for this ritual and this value. 

Human life in all its phases seems to flourish best when some re- 
strictive pressure is exerted against its aimless proliferation, just as 
a garden must be weeded and thinned to produce a richer growth, a 
fuller efflorescence. In nature this pressure seems provided by the 
struggle for existence; but with the increase of mutual aid and the 



tendency to form harmonious organic partnerships, the highest forms 
of life must find within themselves some equivalent principles of re- 
striction. Man is a creature whose appetites, if otherwise uncurbed, 
would grow by what they feed on: with every further satisfaction, his 
needs become more imperious: so that what was once an occasional 
luxury too easily, under prosperous circumstances, becomes a daily 
necessity. If he had no means of releasing himself from this tendency, 
man would forfeit his ■ freedom and with the resulting sad satiety 
would lose the capacity for further development. Here religion, with 
the rise of civilization — ^that is, an ample food supply and a secure 
life — pointed the way, through deliberate sacrifice, to further growth 
and renewal. 

In its minor forms, sacrifice consists of fasts, abstentions, renuncia- 
tion of customary pleasures and indulgences, acts that both mortify 
the body and discipline the soul, tightening the reins on the lower 
functions and giving the lead to the higher ones. These religious ef- 
forts bear so many resemblances to the exercises used for making a 
soldier capable of facing hardship and obeying without question com- 
mands from those above him in rank, that Tertullian, in his preach- 
ments on the Christian way of life, drew constantly upon military prece- 
dents for apt figures. Our Western society is now so conscious of the 
neurotic perversions that may lurk in asceticism that it has overlooked 
its general prevalence in our own society, particularly in those de- 
partments where its advances have been most conspicuous. But, as I 
pointed out in Technics and Civilization, it was primarily a religious 
ascetic practice, shaped in the Benedictine monasteries, that brought 
.forth the new conception of the disciplined capitalist man, schooled 
to regular hours of work, capable of exercising what had been once a 
slave’s devotion to regular and monotonous tasks. Passing from the 
monastery to the scholar’s study and the government office,, this- disci- 
pline eventually became a minimal requirement for business men, 
administrators, scientists: no matter what their other human failings, 
the capacity for intense application to the job in hand has given these 
functionaries no small measure of the dignity and power they enjoy. 
Savage peoples are notoriously incapable of this sort of life-negating 
abstention, but it is equally true that no merely Epicurean philosophy, 
however advanced the civilization, could produce this new ideal type. 

In certain religions, unfortunately, the doctrine of sacrifice and de- 
tachment from organic needs and vital cravings becomes an end in 
itself: this leads ultimately to the complete negation of life one finds 



in early Buddhism. Buddha taught that life, from its beginning at 
birth, brings suffering. This suffering springs out of the libido itself: 
all sensations, all feelings, all impulses and appetites, lead men to 
pain and grief, so that the mass of men, by the very gift of life, are 
drowned in misery, while even the most fortunate, whose head is 
temporarily above water, will sooner or later be swallowed by the 
same flood. 

For the relief of this condition Buddhism had a simple prescription: 
fetter the senses, curb one’s animal impulses, reduce all forms of 
craving! By drying up life at its source, one lessens the daily flow of 
misery. This is the doctrine of. total sacrifice: the whole is forfeited 
in order to control the part. But actually, if life were as inherently 
and chronically subject to miscarriage as Buddhism proclaimed, why 
should one respect the taboo against suicide? The only perfect cure 
for this disease would be to kill the patient: mere halfway measures 
savor of superstition and cowardice. Respecting the will-to-live too 
deeply to challenge this taboo. Buddhism sought to redeem man from 
life, not for life. 

To hold with Schopenhauer, the most consistent Western reinter- 
preter of Buddha’s view, that ‘%e denial of the will to live is the 
way of redemption” is to turn the world into a penal colony: the self- 
imposed starvation of every organ would become the only means of 
release. No doctrine of sacrifice and detachment that so challenges the 
innate will-to-live can hope to keep its hold on the human spirit: for 
if it is not, at any particular moment, untrue to the grim facts of life, 
we know in our hearts that it is untrue to its potentialities. 

That is why in history Buddhism preserved itself, happily, through 
a long series of “corruptions”; against logic, these backslidings once 
more placed Buddhism on the side of life, binding its followers to 
their earthly lot by an elaborate ritual and an esthetic effulgence which, 
so far from denying their mortal appetites, tempted them with ever 
more sensuous and joyous fare. 

In the long-time perspective of religion, it becomes plain that only 
through the practice of sacrifice and the discipline of detachment can 
man accept, without overwhelming despair, the facts of his own cor- 
ruptibility and death. When man has not schooled himself by such 
practices, when he fosters in himself the illusion that he holds life 
on his own terms and may expand without limit, he is in no mood to 
confront the tragic terms of his own existence. 



Once achieved, the practice of sacrifice brings a special compensa- 
tion: the kind of release that comes directly to those who have under- 
gone an ordeal and who know, having survived it, that they are equal 
to all of life’s occasions. Those who accept sacrifice as one of the con- 
stant conditions for life’s fulfillment and expression, whether in the 
relations of lovers, of parents, of citizens, are well grounded in the 
objective conditions under which communities and persons actually 
flourish. No serious work has ever been done in the world without 
giving up a large part of what men rightly think valuable in daily 
living: no higher development was ever achieved without renouncing 
many of tlie goods that gave one satisfaction on a lower plane. Unless 
the great political leader can, at the right moment, give up his politi- 
cal power, as Solon did, unless the loving mother can surrender her 
child suflSciently to let him follow his own line of growth, the very 
resources of power and love necessary to nurture the personality will 
also cripple it. 

In the long run, all high human achievement demands sacrifice, 
since a part of what we do in our present lives will have no fulfill- 
ment or completion till such a distant date that it will make little dif- 
ference to one’s own happiness or that of one’s immediate descend- 
ants. Little efforts may be consummated in the passing hour of the 
present generation, but great things usually demand a longer period 
for their fruition; indeed, perhaps the most valuable part of our lives 
lies in realms that promise least immediate satisfaction. To stand pain, 
hardship, deprivation for the sake of such distant consummations is 
part of tlie lot of the human race. In teaching this lesson, the higher 
religions taught men to accept reality. 

Let me sum up. Though life flourishes only by expressing its im- 
mediate needs and fulfilling the biological goals of growth and repro- 
duction, human beings are able, through the discipline of sacrifice, to 
choose courses that lie outside this natural path, and with this choice 
a fuller development of the person becomes possible. Sacrifice, in the 
religious sense, may be ultimately beneficial to the human community; 
but it is not based on any tangible quid pro quo: often what the indi- 
vidual, or even the community, gives up will be infinitely more than 
what he will get in return. Paradoxically, the more profound the val- 
ues attached to the sacrifice, the less likely one is in the end to profit 
by the act. When the matter is important enough to warrant the giving 
up of life, he who does so gets no earthly reward at all; for who would 
be so foolish as to count his posthumous medals? But the capacity to 



make that decision and to act on those terms has its own special justi- 
fication: it brings one face to face with the divine in human existence. 
‘^‘Indifferent to .gain or loss, prepare for battle.” Those words of 
Krishna to Arjiina in the Bhagavad-Gita count among the ultimate 
words of wisdom; they repeat, with their special accent, the more fa- 
miliar words of the New Testament: “Wliosoever loseth his life, the 
same shall find it.” 

When tliat thought and attitude w^ere first formulated, a new person 
was conceived, and a new form of society became possible. We shall 
presently trace some of these consequences. 


At this point, it may be well to summarize briefly the paradoxical 
functions of religion. Religion proclaims the sacredness of life and 
attempts to further man’s insight into his own development. Spreading 
its net so wide that it hauls in the ugly monsters of superstition and 
many of the commonplace fish of daily life, religion also includes in 
its catch the rare flying fish of divinity, the possession of which, even 
for a moment, somehow exorcises the blind fury of Moliy Dick. 

In the early cycle of culture, religion overcomes the foolish con- 
ceits of barbarous vitality, by confronting man wuth his tragic des- 
tiny; but in the later phases of the cycle, when the attachment to life 
tends to weaken, then religion performs tlie function Henri Bergson 
ascribes to it: it defends man “against the representation by the in- 
telligence of the inevitability of death.” Likewise religion protects him 
against his over-reacting to the sad discovery that there is a constant 
hiatus between his plans and their day-to-day fulfillment, in a world 
where man’s will and purpose are far from being supreme. Finally, 
religion gives man a sense of permanence and rationality in a world 
of flux, accident, seemingly demonic caprice. 

On the animal level, the world contains no mysteries, though it may 
hold many surprises. The animal’s understanding is adequate to his 
environment: the last thing he would be capable of grasping is the 
fact that his environment is beyond his grasp. Not so with man. Reli- 
gion leaches men systematically what his dawning intelligence prompts 
him to suspect, that there are forces beyond his control, time beyond 
his reckoning, space beyond his reach, mysteries beyond his very 
ability to formulate the problems that arise from them. In short, the 
real world is other than what man’s naive animal needs have made 



it out to be. In the light of that interpretation, solid rocks become 
transitory and diaphanous and what seemed the passing shimmer of a 
dream may last longer than a granite cornerstone. 

By centering part of man’s attention on insoluble problems, reli- 
gious thought has schooled man to look below the surface of things: 
the deeper he looks, the more effectively, in the end, he acts. Long 
before modern physics, high religion detached itself from tlie illu- 
sions of materialism: so, too, its faith in a rational order pervading 
the universe gave man the confidence to search for nature’s regulari- 
ties and laws. 

These great contributions also define religion’s limitations. None of 
its concepts offers a causal explanation of any event: it deals with 
reasons, purposes, designs — not causes. Many religious intuitions have 
proved but childish sketches that anticipated, but could not replace, 
the methodical photography of science. Where orderly observation and 
systematic measurement are possible in dealing with the nature of 
man, the traditional descriptions of religion must be supplemented 
with the causal interpretation of science. But the kernel of religious 
consciousness is a profound sense of the nature and meaning of life 
in all its dimensions: an intuition of the whole. In every religious 
myth, from that of Kali the destroyer to that of Jesus, the Good Shep- 
herd, there is a true indication of some portion of man’s experience 
and aspiration that no causal description, from the outside, can nullify, 
or, for that matter, do without. 

In the pervasive forms of animism and magic, religious conscious- 
ness has doubtless superstitiously served many factitious interests and 
local needs: but it has remained a central activity of man because it 
relates, ultimately, to that which is central in all existence; and if 
every shrine were effaced, every Church destroyed, every dogma ob- 
literated, every superstition buried, it would still occupy this place and 
perform this special function. The heightened consciousness of what 
lies beyond our immediate present state, in space and time, was the 
specific contribution of the classic religions. To act in terms of that 
consciousness is to acknowledge that no act exists for the actor alone: 
not even that which seems most private and inviolate. 

Religion, then, is the sphere of the sacred : the ultimate wonder and 
mystery of all existence as mirrored in the living consciousness of 
man. From this standpoint, a single cycle of life in the tiniest of or- 
ganisms discloses something about the nature of the entire cosmic 
process that a whole eon of stellar evolution, without that stir of life, 



would not reveal; while what is relatively even a moment of signifi- 
cant consciousness in the life of man, transforms him from a mere 
speck lost in an almost boundless universe, into a progressively bound- 
less mind, capable of devouring that universe. Where sentience, feel- 
ing, and thought exist the dumb universe has found a spokesman and 
its blind forces a commander. 

This view of religion, needless to say, differs in essential features 
from all of the existing orthodoxies. While it upholds many of the 
divinations and revelations of the classic religions, it does not attribute 
factual truth to their mythologies or any finality to their dogmas. 

In all humility the present philosophy affirms as persistent that 
which every system of revelation tends to coyly modify or arrogantly 
deny: the continued existence of mystery itself. Whether we consider 
God in the orthodox form as the boundless Being that encompasses 
all existence, or as the emergent divinity that realizes the purposes 
and potencies that otherwise remain only latent in existence, this view 
holds that religion has no special key to the character and nature of 
God. In that, we accept the classic Hindu refusal to define God: Neti^ 
neti: that is to say, Not, Not . . . Not Yet. 

So, though the presence of ‘^God” and the possibility of communion 
with ‘‘God” rest on a great mass of human testimony, what it is that 
is so felt and communed with is not open to external inspection or 
objective assessment: it can only be experienced and that experience 
lends itself to diverse interpretations. William James, testing the in- 
fluence of certain drugs and anestlietics and awakening from a nitrous 
oxide dream, felt triumphantly that he held at last the key to the uni- 
verse. But he found that the precious sentence in which all wisdom 
seemed concentrated became, as soon as he awakened, sheer nonsense. 
That is one possibility. At the other extreme, it is conceivable that a 
person who has the experience of encountering God and being lifted 
above all human levels by his presence has found a natural way of 
widening the field of his responses; so that forces that have as little 
to do with his conscious animal existence as, say, the cosmic ray, find 
a path to consciousness that is usually blocked. 

On those terms, the resulting sense of illumination and ecstasy 
might make more life-limited forms of consciousness seem paltry: 
that indeed is what the great mystics have felt and taught. Even such 
a resolute agnostic as Dr Horace Kallen has confirmed this intuition 
of the divine by personal experiment. To seek such ecstasy directly 
would be as worthy of human effort as to seek it in the more tangible 



mediums of painting or music, which also have the possibility of seiz- 
ing and transporting the receptive soul. Are not many of the cere- 
monies of religion an attempt to use the conventional vehicles of art 
to achieve the direct sense of this divine communion? Unfortunately, 
to attach the word ^‘God” to this experience does not in any sure sense 
define it or give one a more intelligible account of the nature of di- 
vinity . . . Neti, neti . . . 

If this interpretation differs from that of the theologians, it differs 
no less from the explanations offered by the so-called advanced minds 
of the recent past: the eighteenth century rationalists, with their con- 
viction that religion was a tissue of superstitions, framed by cunning 
priests for their selfish ends; or the nineteenth century “scientific” 
view, which rejected even the possibility of a pragmatically useful 
superstition and regarded religion as a sort of tumor on the brain of 
reason and science. If religion were as accidental and insignificant as 
this, it would be an exception to every other institution: indeed, it 
would so extravagantly defy our current systems of explanation that 
no scientific mind would rest easy till it had gotten to the bottom of 
this anomaly. 

Here the burden of proof rests rather with the doubter. Even on 
limited biological terms, a practice embedded in the history of the 
race must have some value. If man has so long concerned himself 
with the cosmic and the sacred and the mysterious, as a guide to his 
immediate plan of life, the likelihood is that this concern is a re- 
warding, life-sustaining quest. There are other parallels to guide judg- 
ment here; for the race has often had a dumb persistent feeling that 
some field of activity was important long before man has found a prac- 
ticable means for exploiting it. Take the dream of the transmutation 
of the elements. For ages that dream haunted man irrationally; at the 
end of the Middle Ages in Europe the alchemists, becoming more 
feverish in their quest, even resorted to acts of deliberate charlatan- 
ism, such as concealing gold pellets in their crucible, in order to have 
the false, subjective gratification, if not the actual triumph, of achiev- 
ing it. On the basis of long observation of the stability of the elements, 
there was little hope that this dream could be realized: indeed, the 
more knowledge accumulated, up to a point, the more baseless it 
seemed. Forty years ago, no one doubted that ninety-two elements, 
no more or less, existed, though not all of them had yet been brought 
to light. But let us now admit the facts: the fantastic dream of trans- 
mutation was closer to the nature of things than the scientific prudence 



and common sense that denied it. We have seen the fooFs gold of 
alchemy become the minted sovereign of nuclear physics. 

Thus it may turn out with religion: above all, with the special hope 
of the high religions for enlarging the sphere of the divine, for trans- 
muting humanity into divinity at some far-off moment. The formulas 
that the Churches have employed for bringing about this change are 
doubtless as clumsily empirical, as willfully superstitious, as practi- 
cally futile, as those of the alchemists — though even here one must 
qualify this dismissal by remembering that the alchemists chose lead 
as their favorite element for transmutation: a selection from the right 
compartment of the periodic table. Certainly, no one can examine the 
role of religion in historic societies without recalling how often the 
religious impulse itself has miscarried, and how resistant human ways 
and institutions have been to the radical changes in man’s nature which 
religion has proposed. But these failures must be set beside many 
genuine gains: for, as the distinguished anthropologist, Dr A. L. 
Kroeber, has pointed out, the classic religions have done much to trans- 
form the infantilism of primitive man; and there is little doubt that 
human development has gone on most fully and rapidly in those civili- 
zations where a higher religious consciousness has pervaded at least 
an enlightened minority. 

On this view, then, religion is no bedraggled survival from the past, 
soon to be completely discarded through the advance of positive sci- 
ence, Traditional religion will, rather, be the source of fresh muta- 
tions, proceeding from older formulas to more active methods of in- 
vestigation, experiment, self-observation, utilizing aspects of life and 
personality that science too long has disdained. 

Religion concerns itself with the reaction of man in his wholeness 
to the whole that embraces him. Instead of abandoning religion as 
science extends the province of objective description, we must rather 
increase its scope, so that our subjective contributions will be as ade- 
quate and as disciplined as our objective descriptions. The despiritual- 
ization of the world — ^the withdrawal of projections, as Jung calls it — 
has not brought us closer to reality, but has shut out that aspect of 
reality which only the fully developed human person with a rich sub- 
jective life can cope with. As a result of this process, we have not sim- 
ply undermined our sense of the divine: we have rather embraced it 
in an inverted and debased form by giving a fuller scope to the 
demonic. When the god in him is repressed, the half-gods and devils 
take possession of man. We have seen that happen in our day, in 


countries that have too confidently paraded their science and oh- 

Religion re-establishes man where he belongs in the scale of sig- 
nificance: at the very center of the universe he consciously embraces 
and interprets. Without excessive pride, we may still nourish the hope 
diat one day man will d scover a more viable way than even the saints 
have yet found to nourish and enlarge the province of the divine. What 
man still finds within him only at rare moments he may yet project 
and establish in the world outside: the beginning if not the cLple- 
tion of the Kingdom of Heaven. ^ 




Various classic religions and philosophies anticipated the current 
discovery tliat man has two natures: a primitive or original nature, 
conditioned by his biological inheritance, and a socially acquired na- 
ture, shaped by his history and his culture, not least by his aspira- 
tions and anticipations. Apart from earliest infancy man’s original 
nature never becomes visible except as it is clothed in its social at- 
tributes; for one of man’s deepest natural characteristics, as essential 
to him as the hive-building habits of bees, is his impulse to fabricate 
and transmit a culture. By this means he not only communicates with 
his kind and interprets every fresh experience, but modifies his own 
capacities. He must make himself more than an animal, if he is not 
to fall below the level of any beast. 

As a product of nature, whose past links him with other animal 
species, whose present condition unites him in complicated ecological 
partnerships, making him dependent upon even the bacteria and the 
molds, man’s work is plainly laid down for him. Breathe or die! Drink 
or die! Eat or die! Reproduce or die! Work together or die! These 
alternatives hold as strictly for him as they do for all the rest of the 
animal kingdom; and so a large part of his existence must be dedi- 
cated to carrying out these functions: the physiological cycles of nu- 
trition, growth, and repair, of ovulation, fertilization, and reproduc- 
tion account for immense areas of human activity, and leave such a 
profound impression that they even color remoter spheres of his cul- 
ture. On the basis of these animal needs, man builds his culture: elab- 
orating in more playful forms the imperious demands of nature. 

By the slow accretion of symbols and technical facilities, of customs 
and ceremonies and rituals, man builds upon the environment he 
shares with other animals a more artful nature, one he has made more 
truly his own. If habit becomes “second nature” culture is mainly 

transmitted habit. The biological differences between the major races 




of mankind are few, compared to the diJfferences that exist between 
cultures: for each culture, even if primitive, tied closely to natural 
conditions and limited in area, tends to become an almost self-con- 
tained world, set apart from each other little self-contained world. So 
dearly won are the achievements of culture, that, once a departure has 
been made, it tends for long periods to become sacrosanct. ''We ob- 
serve our ancient customs,” an Eskimo head-man said to Rasmussen, 
"so that the universe may be preserved.” The comfort that children 
find in the repetition of a familiar story, or the discomfort they show 
when a familiar ritual is thoughtlessly omitted, only carries into the 
present the attitude of primitive man toward the ways of his tribe. So 
the stereotypes of social habit, though different from those of nature, 
tend all too soon to become as fixed, rigid, hostile to further change 
and development. Bergson, in Two Sources of Morality and Religion, 
has well described the static, immobile, self-preservative culture of 
tribe and nation. 

Once a group has achieved a certain level of culture, its life tends 
to relapse into a static and repetitive pattern, undergoing changes only 
in response to outward pressures, coming either from fluctuations in 
climate and in food supply, or the insurgent activities of other tribes, 
encroaching on home territory: whence the old proverb, that dates 
back at least to Heraclitus, that war is the father of change. For the 
greater part of history, the main source of recent cultural changes, 
namely mechanical invention, operated only at rare intervals and with 
great slowness : tens of thousands of years passed before the Old Stone 
Age, with its hunting economy, gave place to the New Stone Age, 
marked by the domestication of animals and plants. In the more primi- 
tive cultures, man’s nature remained almost as limited, as conditioned 
by the characteristics of his immediate group, as incapable of pro- 
jecting higher levels for development, as the animal species them- 
selves: for all of life’s insurgence and adventure, the whole course of 
organic development is marked by a series of enclosures and arrests: 
in human culture no less than in nature. 

But at a particular moment of history, a transformation at length 
takes place. This has proved almost as radically important for man’s 
higher development as his original invention of language. He seeks a 
new kind of self, organically conditioned by his biological and social 
roles, and yet to a certain degree released from them: directed toward 
a path of development that lies beyond mere racial continuity and tribal 
survival. By an inner reorientation, man detaches himself from the fate 



of his local group: he becomes part of a more universal society, at 
first merely an imagined one, and by means of new insights and pur- 
poses, he transcends the frustrations of his historic experience and an 
earthbound community. 

One may call this process the birth of the person. Its significance 
lies in the fact that it makes possible the eventual emergence of united 
humanity, no longer separated by impassable cultural walls: individ- 
uation and unity thus go hand in hand. With this change, man loosens 
his ties with blood and soil, which bound him to his limited past: all 
other men become his brothers, the world becomes his home, and the 
inner transformations of the person take precedence over the shocks 
and challenges and chance stimuli that come from outer circumstances 
alone. First he is earth-conditioned: then group-conditioned: still 
largely the passive product of nature and culture. Finally, he achieves 
self-direction and propels himself toward a universal community. 

Even today this transformation has not yet been widely achieved, 
though it has been the major effort of the classic religions for the last 
three thousand years. Let us look at this process more closely; for 
it has long resisted interpretation: even the best recent descriptions, 
those of Bergson and Toynbee, have been vitiated by their over-sharp 
distinction between the tribal and the universal, between the self wholly 
conditioned by the immediate culture and tlie transcendent self that is 
released from its local attachments and is part of a more universal so- 
ciety. Yet the change is in fact a profound one; for it adds to the 
human character something not given, except in a latent form, in 
either nature or culture — ^the glimpse of higher pinnacles of develop- 
ment, in and through and ultimately beyond the person. 

So far from being at the end of this development, we may, with 
the further advance of science, be only at the beginning of a much 
wider transformation. But to be ready for such departures we must 
first examine the process that gave rise to the universal religions — 
beginning perhaps with the abortive effort of Ikhnaton in Egypt to 
found a world religion under the Sun God, Aton. 


The change I seek to interpret seems to occur at a crucial moment in 
civilization. Sometimes that change is embodied in myths, and at other 
moments, it leaves behind its own record, marred by torn or missing 



pages but still largely decipherable: the Confucian Analects or the 
New Testament. Up to this point, each member of the community has 
no part to play except as a subordinate, often specialized, member of 
the group as a whole: he must obey its laws, and still more strictly, 
follow its customs on penalty of severe punishment, sometimes even 
death: its taboos, however irrational, are inviolate, and its gods, how- 
ever brutal, are unchallengeable. In so far as this community has a 
mind, it is a common one: the new Chinese character for the generic 
term, group — man-sheep — applies to all tribal communities even when, 
as in the great river valleys of the Indus, the Tigris, the Euphrates, or 
the Nile they reach the complex interdependencies of civilization. Al- 
ready, perhaps, there is a glimmer of the potentialities of the person, 
even in the most backward tribes: but if so, it is confined to the local 
god: the attributes of autonomy, self-transformation, selectivity, free- 
dom do not as yet belong to any being except the god, or his symbolic 
representative in the community, the Pharaoh or Emperor. 

Suddenly — for the first steps in the transformation occur within 
the span of an individual life — a person detaches himself from the 
community. He singles himself out from the mass by reason of the 
fact that he no longer paints his face or tattoos his skin with the typ- 
ical patterns of the tribe. He is no longer a Babylonian or an Egyptian 
or an Assyrian: no longer an Eskimo or a Bantu or a Maya: no longer 
even visibly a Yellow Man or a White Man or a Black Man. He be- 
longs in fact to a new and singular species that has never hitherto had 
a local habitation: he is a person. In him the natural man experiences 
rebirth and enters into a fuller inheritance than that of his race or 

The usual questions that one asks about the older forms of man are 
no longer relevant: What tribe do you belong to and what land do you 
come from? Who are your parents, your brothers and sisters, your 
other kinsmen? What is your vocation, your rank and status? What 
language do you speak: what food do you eat? Yes, this person comes 
from a tribe, but all the markings have grown fainter; yes: he has 
sisters and brothers, but he has turned his back on them: he still loves 
the place where he was nurtured, but the wide world has become his 
home. He has a vocation, too; is a shepherd, a carpenter, a tent-maker, 
a lens-grinder; but he purposes to found a new kind of guild, based — 
to use Fichte’s phrase — on the Vocation of Man. This creator of a 
universally human mode of feeling and thinking and behaving first 



announces himself by stripping off the symbols of his local culture: in 
his very nakedness he seems a monster, and in his innocence a cheat. 
But he leaves on a few open minds an impression so singular they 
never forget it: they have at last seen a Man. With this avatar of uni- 
versal Man, this second birth, a new stage of development opens for 
humanity at large. 

What attracts men to this new type of person? — he who urges them 
to leave their familiar paths in the fertile valleys of life, and climb, 
with constant effort, with hazard-tempting skill, often facing mortal 
danger, up to the rocky pinnacles and the ice-clad summits, where 
finally the climber himself is the only representative of life? Why do 
men dream, even for a moment, that his way is a better way than their 
way, and that the lonely climb, with no promise of a safe return, will 
yield a higher reward than three solid meals, a soft bed, and a warm 
fire in the ancestral village below? 

The reason should be evident, for the greatest of all human rewards 
is surely not animal satiety: therefore not health, not wealth, not lux- 
ury: not a multiplicity of sexual partners or an endless procession of 
feasts, all followed by drowsy oblivion. The greatest reward is a sense 
of possibilities above this lowland existence: the inner strength that 
spurns security: the vision one achieves only from the heights, after 
the hard effort of the climb. Because the new prophet represents, in 
excess, the highest but weakest side of man’s nature, he exercises a pe- 
culiar fascination over his fellows. This weak side, even at the lowest 
human level, has already helped him to emerge from his grubby ani- 
mal necessities; but it does not yet dominate them: far from it. Even 
to believe in its existence, too often requires a special act of faith: 
‘‘Tf anyone was unreal,” observed Henry Adams, himself the product 
of a high culture, “it was the poet and not the business man.” He 
spoke thus, not merely for his generation, but for the common sensual 
man, at all times and everywhere. So fragile is the common faith in 
all that gives life the sense of some more ultimate goal than the end- 
less cycle of animal necessities. 

The new person embodies that faith and confirms it: he speaks from 
cosmic as well as human perspectives: on behalf of the timeless, the 
unconditioned, the universal. He gives forth new laws that defy those 
of the tribe, and outlines new duties that supplant the familiar old 
ones: his message flows, like a stream of fresh water from the moun- 
tain top, to remove the barnacles of superstition that cling to the 
tribal hulk and hamper even its daily sailings. With the cleansing of 


law and custom, the new self emerges: a self capable of leading a life 
not included in the tribal pattern, capable of moving outside the circle 
of the tribe or the city and embracing men molded by other earth- 1 
forces and social pressures: a self capable finally of detaching itself, 
in some degree, from even the most urgent biological needs: renounc- 
ing life, yet guarding it and fostering it more watchfully than it had 
been fostered and guarded before. 

When such a transformation takes place in complete isolation, as 
one must assume that it often does, the chances will be against the 
survival of either the person or the new way of life. For its successful 
establishment the human community itself must be prepared for an 
unusual change, for a rebellion against the accepted pattern of life, 
by experiencing some unusual series of misfortunes or frustrations. 
Unscathed, untroubled, unawakened, no community would be pre- 
pared for the new person or be willing to take part in the great changes 
that he finally effects. Only out of despair can such hope and such 
invincible effort come forth. This new religious consciousness, as 
Toynbee has amply demonstrated, takes form almost without excep- 
tion in a Time of Troubles; when the familiar gods have deserted the 
tribe and the familiar ways of life do not bring their accustomed 

Yet once the situation is ripe, and once the prophet appears, a 
whole series of changes will come about with remarkable swiftness; 
and though these changes may bring no improvement in material con- 
ditions, men will turn to their familiar tasks with a new sense of di- 
rection and purpose: they will model their whole existence on a non- 
tribal, non-animalistic plan. So decisive is this transformation that 
presently people will proclaim that the process is a supernatural one: 
a god has been born! 

But a god is not in question. The miracle that takes place is with- 
out doubt a true miracle; but the marvel of it is even greater because 
it does not in fact depend upon a supernatural agency. Changes that 
would be inconceivable through the slow secular modifications of tribal 
society, changes so great that they would otherwise need a millennium, 
take place in fact, at least the grand outlines emerge, under the im- 
pact of the new personality, almost overnight: through this form of 
social polarization, every element in the community re-aligns itself as 
a group of iron filings re-arrange themselves in a definite pattern once 
they are brought within the range of a magnet. But do not be misled 
by mythological elaborations: the process itself is a natural one. The 



new leader need not exercise, or pretend to exercise, omnipotent or 
even super-normal powers: certainly, in their own lifetimes, neither 
Solon nor Confucius nor Buddha nor Moses nor Mahomet made any 
claim to being a God. The magical wonder-working attributes, which 
are later imputed to the leader, or even to his relics, are probably 
signs of a declining faith, which can no longer credit the natural prop- 
erties of the departed leader and feels the need of bridging the in- 
creasing psychological distance by a recourse to magical explana- 
tions. His followers, inferior to the man, conceal their own littleness 
by hiding behind the enlarged figure of a God. 

But the real miracle is in fact far more astounding than the healing 
of the sick, the raising of the dead, or the moving of mountains: foi 
the birth of a universal personality is the equivalent, if not more than 
the equivalent, of the sudden appearance of a new species in nature. 
Through the creation and incarnation of a universal persona, or mask, 
a whole civilization may not merely alter its composite face but deeply 
change many other dynamic constituents of its character. By strenuous 
discipline and devout imitation, each follower of the new prophet as- 
sumes the mask for himself, and in time his own very bones and flesh 
begin, as it were, to fill in these ideal outlines: by a second birth he 
achieves a nature no less distinctive than that given by his first birth. 

We have still much to learn about this whole change. In some ways, 
this transformation bears a resemblance to a more common process: 
that which takes the raw material one finds in any generation of babies 
and, within a short space of years, with the aid of parental training, 
social molds, and deliberate educational methods, transforms these 
creatures into clerks and bookkeepers, into physicians and inventors, 
into farm laborers and mechanics: creatures adapted to many roles 
of a most exacting kind, not found in nature or in primitive societies. 
The creation of such characters, the assumption of such roles, is a 
common secular process: under sufficient stress, we can even take 
young men, amiably disposed toward their fellows, used to an easy, 
over-protected life, and within a half-year turn them into soldiers, 
ready to endure extreme hardship, to kill ruthlessly, to face grievous 
injury or death. This last change is, in fact, almost miraculous enough 
to be called a conversion: but it lacks the spontaneity, the “catching 
quality,” that religious transformation displays. 

In sketching this development I but outline a problem. How a per- 
son ^^becomes what he at first merely pretends to be,” as Gordon All- 
port has pointed out, “is one of the processes dynamic psychology 



seeks to explain,” Unfortunately for science, the most revealing ex- 
amples of this transformation on a collective scale take place only at 
rare moments in history; and our chief knowledge must be derived, 
not from this critical handful of major events, but from various paral- 
lel manifestations of the process, visible in every developing life, 
which take place under far less dramatic and decisive circumstances. 
As for the later achievements of a persona, which turn people year 
after year into Hindus, Jews, or Christians, they take place under the 
slower pressures of custom and habit: the dramatic process of con- 
version becomes, at this later stage, far more rare. Yet it is only by 
a repetition of the original experience, by incarnation and conversion, 
that the original change can keep from lapsing into a social stereotype, 
given to vain repetitions and empty rituals, incapable of producing 
the freedom, the autonomy, the creativity of the original person. 

One need not wonder, then, that it is from the artist that the best 
description of the whole creative process has so far come. William 
Butler Yeats, in his Autobiography, noted that “there is a relation 
between discipline and the theatrical sense. If we cannot imagine our- 
selves as different from what we are and assume the second self, we 
cannot impose a discipline upon ourselves, though we may accept one 
from others. Active virtue, as distinct from the passive acceptance of a 
current code, is therefore theatrical, consciously dramatic, the wear- 
ing of a mask. It is the condition of an arduous full life.” I cannot 
improve that description. 

With the birth of the illumined person, the ritual of a static culture, 
conditioned by its own past, complacently committed to its ingrown 
“way of life,” vain of its very weaknesses, turns into an active drama, 
whose plot concerns the conflict between its higher aims and claims, 
embodied in the person, and its old anxiety to achieve mere security 
and survival. Every great religious prophet has been the harbinger 
of a more universal way of life, which unites his fellows into a wider 
community that ideally encompasses all mankind. In that sense, the 
new leader is the individual embodiment of a whole society; and from 
his personality, his new attitude, his fresh aims, his daily practices, 
not least from little hints he drops by the way without developing 
them, the complex activities of a higher society will take form. In time 
a discipline and a common system of education will be perfected in 
an attempt to carry forward the original miracle of his detachment 
and transcendence. Yet the pressures of a closed society will limit the 
full scope of this movement: neither Buddhism nor Christianity nor 



Islam, the most extensive attempts at unification, has actually encom- 
passed more than a small portion of mankind. But the original effort, 
even when it stops short of its ideal goal, profoundly alters every in- 
stitution; and transfigures every possibility. 

This transformation, as I have hinted, has never been satisfactorily 
described in all its details, though the data for such a description have 
been accumulated by comparative history and anthropology, and much 
of it has been conveniently summarized in Toynbee’s magnificent work 
of scholarship, A Study of History. If theologians have tended to over- 
magnify the more striking moments of this process and to give them 
an entirely supernatural cast, the ordinary historian or sociologist has 
been tempted simply to ignore it, because his leading concepts and his 
method direct his attention to less singular points and less decisive 
changes. How could conventional modern scholars describe a change 
that takes place, in the first instance, in a single individual, not in a 
mass: above all an interior change not verified by substantial contem- 
porary documents, a change whose very existence can only be deduced 
from its remote consequences? Yet the fact remains that much of this 
process is of a social nature: the mask would be unimportant if it 
covered only one face. 


In The Condition of Man I sought to summarize the stages of this 
whole transformation from personality to community under the heads 
of Formulation, Incarnation, Incorporation, and Embodiment. Here I 
shall recapitulate this summary, in order to have a firmer base for 
describing the corresponding process in its counter-development in re- 
verse: Disembodiment, Alienation, Detachment, Illumination. 

The first step in the integration of a more universal person, the step 
of formulation, involves a change of ideas and, more deeply, an alter- 
ation of feeling, attitude, and expectancy. This change often takes 
places on the uppermost level of abstraction: but it eventually brings 
new perceptions and intuitions to the actual life-situation. Often in the 
early stages, the new attitude hardly even achieves the status of a full- 
blown philosophy: it is still too fluid and unformed, too much the 
product of solitary illumination: the very words to express it are lack- 
ing. For a long time the change of attitude produces no definite ideo- 
logical structure, though it may show itself in such arts as are un- 
bound by practical exigencies, like painting or music: there is some- 



thing secret and esoteric in these early manifestations. At their deep- 
est levels, they are a wordless sense of fresh potentialities for life. 

Consider the coming of Christianity. The ideas of renunciation and 
otherworldly fulfillment of a supernal kind were already visible in the 
fifth century mystery cults: baptism, initiation, conversion, all were 
practiced; and the believer was “saved” by these practices and guar- 
anteed an after-life in heaven. Plato had a more philosophic vision of 
eternity: but his world of forms complemented the vulgar heaven; 
and he, too, participated in the general reorientation toward death: 
the new departure. These life-renouncing ideas characterized the phi- 
losophies of Antisthenes and Diogenes, and formed the general me- 
dium of expression for the world-weariness that took place in the 
whole Greco- Judaic world: they had their counterpart in the prac- 
tices of the Therapeutae and the Essenes. Seeping into Israel the new 
attitude blended with a growing belief in the end of the world and 
the coming of the Messiah, so long prophesied in Jewish literature. 
Beyond this, currents of Buddhism, transmitted through Alexander the 
Great’s conquests, may have re-enforced these native elements. 

All these early formulations took place centuries before the ideas 
were clarified, deepened, and given a dynamic impetus through the 
act of incarnation: for men become susceptible to ideas, not by dis- 
cussion and argument, but by seeing them personified and by loving 
the person who so embodies them. The prophet must live' the life so 
that others may know the doctrine: he hands down the idea in a form 
deeper than words to his followers and successors; and they, in turn, 
must dramatically install themselves in his role. 

Here, in the history of Christianity, Jesus and Paul of Tarsus played 
a decisive part. Up to this point, the main ideas of Christianity were 
still formless and diffuse. They had given rise to more than one par- 
tial incarnation, indeed, to a succession of such incarnations from 
Socrates to John the Baptist; even later manifestations, like that of 
Mani, were of the same order. But the decisive stage awaited the inner 
transformation of Jesus. This came after his lonely vigil in the desert: 
he came forth from that ordeal, not merely prophesying that a serious 
Time of Troubles was at hand, according to Matthew, but manifesting 
in his own person a radical change of interest and attitude. Rising 
above concern for temporal kingship and personal survival, Jesus 
stressed the new virtues of humility and forbearance and patience: he 
treated one’s duty to one’s neighbor as of the same order as self-inter- 
est and sought by imaginative insight, through smiling accommoda- 



tion rather than resistance, to transform aggression. By all these means 
Jesus created a new basis for human association and a new social 
agency for living through and transcending the approaching crisis. 
The person thus gained the upper hand over the forces that threat- 
ened it. 

Now we come to the third stage. The direct effect of the prophet 
upon his community is fitful and limited during his lifetime: he 
reaches only a handful of disciples; and these, as often as not, are 
the weaklings, the rejected ones, the outcasts, who have nothing to 
lose* Before he can touch even such people, no small part of his life 
has been spent in the process of defining his mission, fitting himself 
for it. This self-transformation, incidentally, is so little understood 
that a certain biographer of Walt Whitman used the evidence that 
describes his second birth as a positive proof of the fact that Whitman 
was a mere charlatan. Even among those who come directly under the 
prophet’s influence, the faithful handful, the process of rebirth and 
renewal takes place slowly, haltingly: the disciples are at first wit- 
nesses rather than active participants: if they are fascinated by this 
new species of man, they are also full of doubts and resistances and 
impulses to betrayal: witness Thomas, Peter, Judas. Moreover, those 
who are most desirous of being re-born are not always thoroughly 
transformed: even while the master is living they fall away from him, 
and though their conversion be ardent, they may not in the end suc- 
ceed in changing their ways as fully as they had, in their first gener- 
ous espousal, believed possible. Yes: the new mask does not fit easily 
over the natural face: indeed, in forcing conformity, it will be the 
mask, not the head, that will be changed. For one who stands on the 
bank and looks at a swimmer, swimming looks easy; but once the nov- 
ice takes to the water himself, he can scarcely make half a dozen 
strokes before he sinks: it takes practice as well as faith to be able to 
keep one’s head above water. So with this greater change. 

To give substance to this new personality, one must do more than 
repeat the master’s precepts, capture his gestures, imitate his voice: 
the whole routine and discipline of life must in time be altered. Once 
the new person appears, once the new plot and theme are outlined, 
the stage must be set and special costumes designed for the multitude 
of new actors. The rites of sex and marriage, the conduct of economic 
life and the administration of government, in the end every social in- 
stitution, must be altered so as to support the new person and make 
possible his social existence and his participation in all the activities 



from which, in the first instance, he had withdrawn and had apparently 
left behind him. 

In short, if the rebirth begins as an inner private change, it must 
be confirmed by an outer public one, before the new self can achieve 
a universal nature, superimposed on the more limited secular culture. 
Until these processes of incorporation and embodiment have taken 
place, the new personality will remain unformed, inoperative, inse- 
cure, subject to early extinction. In the end, the very environment must 
be made over: everything, from costume to architecture, will be re- 
modeled and will in some degree record and express further the inner 
change that has taken place. 

By the time the final stage is reached, in which a whole society has 
been re-shaped by the new doctrine and cult, a further transformation 
has taken place: this curtails the great leap that the originating per- 
sonality, departing from existing practices without yet being ham- 
pered by the new ones his own doctrine in turn brings into existence, 
has actually made. For the original intuitions of the new religion, 
and the image of the new person as partly incarnated in the prophet 
himself, must pass through many minds before they take hold in so- 
ciety. On the way, they will encounter the inertia and resistance, yes, 
the downright hostility, of many venerable institutions. For the sake 
of sheer survival the new religion or philosophy will absorb many 
contradictory elements derived from the static body of the existing 
cultures it seeks to re-make: not least it will have to come to terms 
with old biological claims that it has perhaps too peremptorily dis- 

In the act of adapting itself to the existing order and its favored 
“way of life” the new religion will, often without any conscious guile, 
alter the original intentions of the prophet and even contradict his 
demands: consider the place occupied by image-worship in later 
Buddhism, or by the saints and the Virgin Mary in the Catholic 
Church: consider, too, the glaring contradiction between Jesus’s in- 
junction about simplicity in prayer with the elaboration of prayer in 
the Christian liturgy. At many points, then, the need for adaptability, 
as a condition for survival, may lead to wholesale perversions and 
betrayals: so the gospel of humility and love will sometimes be car- 
ried into action with fire and sword, with arrogance and hate. 

The more extensive the claims of the new personality, the greater 
are the chances for this perversion: Buddhism and Christianity have 
been more open to self-betrayal than Confucianism or Mosaic Juda- 



ism. Every radical transformation takes place 'within a society that 
is, by sheer force of habit if nothing more, deeply alien to the new 
impulses and the new forms; for w^hat is any established institution 
but a Society for the Prevention of Change? T!ie impetus of life it- 
self, in the great mass of men, is limited by inertia. Left to themselves 
many would be content to accept their animal lot: the common tribal 
self suffices and one birth in a lifetime is enough for them. So in every 
culture, during the period of its reintegration and renewal, there is 
a constant tug between the old self and the new self, or as Christian- 
ity used to put it, between the unregenerate Adam and the redeemed 
Adam. These theological terms refer to observable facts: one could 
witness them, during the past generation, operating in Communist 
Russia, where very plainly the Old Adam of the Czarist tyranny has 
won out. Why, people presently demand, should they seek to achieve 
a larger common mold that ignores their racial pattern, their physio- 
logical type, their “natural” tribal self? To conform more closely to 
the pattern of their tribe is the only re-making of the natural man 
that seems to them sensible, and this is so much a matter of merely 
deepening ruts that are already deep that it seems part of the way of 
nature itself. 

Unfortunately, the very qualities of the new personality, which raise 
the level of tensions and conflicts, are partly responsible for the be- 
trayals that take place. Though the new prophet wins the faith of his 
fellows by reminding them of the claims of their higher functions, his 
rejection of nature and habit, of the racial “id” and the tribal “ego,” 
is perhaps too peremptory and too unqualified; for however eagerly 
man aims at expressing more fully his higher nature, he can never 
become a disembodied spirit: such a perfection would remove all fur- 
ther striving. In their very effort to overcome the tendency to slip back 
too quickly into tribal norms, the great religious leaders have often 
lifted their ideals so high above the vulgar patterns of life that in the 
end they have defeated their own purposes. Not content to establish a 
central nucleus, around which the new personality can form, they 
demand a kind of life from the ordinary man that would, were he 
able to follow it faithfully, transform him into a saint. Judging other 
people’s capacity by his own, the leader makes little of this transfor- 
mation. Because, for example, he is himself willing to forego all sex- 
ual satisfactions, he may hold up an extravagant ideal of perfect 
chastity before other men, without in his innocence even realizing 
that for most normal people chastity of mind and spirit, so far from 



resulting from abstention, is the reward of a loving and harmonious 
sexual life. 

From the abyss of a Time of Troubles, these heroic renunciations 
may in fact summon up, for a while, a depth and completeness of 
response that a more reasonable expectation of change would not pro- 
duce: so far they have a pragmatic justification. But the final results 
are often deplorable and in time tliey cast undue discredit upon the 
original doctrine: for the more earnest followers of the new^ faith 
tend to live in a state of constant frustration, inadequacy, and guilt; 
or to overcome the strain, they escape as soon as possible by degrad- 
ing the original impulse into a superstitious worship of a remote Di- 
vine Being with whom mortal flesh can have little in common. This 
backsliding explains, perhaps, why the historic religions tend to identify 
the flashes of divine insight the new prophet exhibits with the final ap- 
pearance of God in human form. The mythical figure, growing at the 
expense of the human one, becomes more easily assimilated: by 
widening the breach between the heavenly and the earthly life, sinful 
men make it easier for themselves to sink back into the more familiar 
round of earthly existence. 

So much for the shortcomings of the profound impulses that have 
transformed whole societies. But not by such lapses that can account 
for the new religion’s widespread influence and for the amazing per- 
sistence of a new vision of man’s potentialities: a vision sometimes 
transmitted through tens of millions of people for two or three thou- 
sand years. What actually survives of the new person is what counts: 
the image of a human being of the largest spiritual capacities: the 
mutant of a new social species. Since it is the total personality that 
becomes operative in this great conversion, the most effective prophets 
disdain to use the written word for transmitting their message: as Walt 
Whitman put it, ‘T and mine do not convince by arguments: we con- 
vince by our presence.” So they communicate, even at many removes, 
through a living chain of believers, the true apostolic succession, and 
by the echoes that still reverberate on the air, the after-image that still 
lingers on the retina, many centuries after they have gone. 

If words alone conveyed the message of the new person, the in- 
fluence of the great prophets would be hard to understand; for their 
affirmations and acts differ in no special way from those of many other 
men of genius: no mere examination of the new doctx'ine can fully 
account for their impact. Let us .confess it: in Aeschylus, Sophocles, 
and Plato; in Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe; in Donne, Emerson, and 



Melville, there are occasional probings into the very core of human 
existence that often surpass, in their profundity, any recorded observa- 
tion of Confucius, Jesus, or Buddha. If scattered intuitions and in- 
sights were capable of transforming life, they are indeed present in 
every great literature in quantities copious enough to produce a change. 
But the impress of a new personality is of a different order: through 
him many diffused and scattered ideas unite to produce, not other new 
ideas, but a man. 

All this is part of the natural history of man; and it can be fol- 
lowed, on a humbler scale, with a narrower scope and a shorter time- 
span, in many lesser incarnations. The influence of Napoleon I pre- 
sents itself: that model, not merely for the Julien Sorels, but for the 
masters of finance and industry and politics in the nineteenth century. 
Even in his own lifetime, Napoleon transformed laws and customs over 
a wide area; and there was a Napoleon I style in furniture and deco- 
ration, as well as in military strategy. With a little more luck and 
success, he might even have become the titular deity of the new creed 
of modern man: Arrivisme: the religion of the ‘'Bitch-goddess 

Does this mean that we must accept the enlargement of the new 
personality, through the agency of a cult, a priesthood, and a church, 
into a cosmic myth and a veritable all-embracing God? Not in the 
least; for an emergent species of divinity, whose potent activating 
effect upon a whole society we need not deny, has no need for such 
an imposing background: this trick of enlargement is perhaps but a 
special case of the general tendency to over-value an object of love. 
The god that Buddha in time became was expressly denied by the 
fundamental beliefs of Buddha himself. As for Jesus, there is more 
ambiguity in his own position and testimony; but though the weight 
of the evidence would point to his belief in his own supernatural 
mission, that proof is almost negated by a single passage in which he 
said: “Why call ye me good? Only God is good.” Is that not a sim- 
ple profession of his purely human dimensions? Those words, left as 
it were by inadvertence in the New Testament, are so strikingly in 
contradiction to the usual claims of Jesus’s divinity that they have an 
exceptional ring of authenticity, though they demolish the assumptions 
upon which most of the New Testament and the Pauline Epistles rest. 

Divine or human, heavenly or mundane, the fact is that, at certain 
intervals of history, the potentialities for a more universal culture, 
a more co-operative life, and a richly dramatic development of the 



human theme become visible in the image and example of a single 
human being. At that moment a universal man appears and under his 
direction a universal society becomes possible. This but repeats, in a 
more decisive and transcendent fashion, a natural process that is con- 
stantly at work in some degree in every human group and tribe and 
nation. The imitation of that example provides a new destination for 
society, and a new set of values and purposes, which start it moving 
on a new path. Centuries and millennia may pass before that impulse 
ceases to enrich civilization. But in an age that has rejected the func- 
tion of personality, in its attempt to achieve statistical certainty through 
dealing only with mass phenomena, the prevalence of a mechanistic 
and behaviorist ideology undermines both the sense of reality and the 
possibility of renewal. Before we can go further, therefore, it is nec- 
essary that we should take account of this obstacle and firmly push 
beyond it. 


The birth of a dominant personality is the decisive step in the proc- 
ess of making a limited, closed society capable of entering into wider 
social relations, of a more inclusive and universal pattern. By loving 
and imitating the parental, life-nurturing image of the new person, 
by bowing to his wisdom, by following in his footsteps, by accepting 
his ideal figure as a true and central image of man, toward which all 
smaller figures should approximate, peoples of the most diverse back- 
grounds and histories achieve a common bond and pursue a common 
goal. Through this personal medium they achieve a common under- 
standing and the possibility, despite all diversity, of combining and 
synergizing their efforts. The process of arriving .at this unanimity is 
no simple one: it demands effort. But the result of that effort is to 
replace regional, tribal, and national differences, which set men apart, 
with a sense of their common destiny, arising not out of common ani- 
mal origins, but out of their unique historic purposes. 

There are many factors in our day that make this imitation of the 
person difficult , to understand in theory or to accept in practice. Even 
when one makes allowances for the historical distortion of this whole 
process through an over-magnification of the person, there is some- 
thing about the manner of this transformation that stimulates a resist- 
ance in the very groups that should, from their own experience, be in 
the best position to interpret the workings of personality. 



Perhaps the deepest source of this resistance in Western society is 
the general reaction, since the close of the Middle Ages, against the 
religious enhancement of personality. Humanism, which made man the 
center again, lacked the humility to participate in a kind of change 
that even the uneducated and the illiterate must share. F urthermore, in 
the pursuit of more accurate knowledge about the behavior of physical 
bodies, and with the growth of gigantic bureaucratic, industrial, and 
military organizations, the process of depersonalization spread to 
every other department. Result: our conscious world is largely a deper- 
sonalized world, and our most accurate knowledge is limited to those 
areas where the person does not operate. 

In any account of dynamic social processes, our favored knowledge 
today comes mainly from those realms where man’s behavior is closest 
to animal behavior: Darwin’s pioneering work on animal psychology, 
which established close relations between human behavior and that of 
other animals, near or remote, has borne abundant fruit. In so far as 
we take account of the human personality, we conceive it as being a 
mere product of its past and its geographic and cultural environment, 
without any allowance for the fact that at man’s level the future, the 
imagined and projected future, is hardly less effectively operative. 
We accept the past’s drag: we reject the future’s pull. If changes take 
place in man’s character and destiny, current thought conceives man 
himself as being merely a passive creature of forces outside himself: 
we hold perhaps that little modifications can be made by food and 
drugs, by habit and exercise, and that further social changes can be 
effected by mechanical inventions, by laws and codes. By the contin- 
ued operation of such agents, we even admit the possibility of pro- 
found changes taking place eventually in a whole culture. But, in 
terms of conventional science, we have no need to invoke the direct 
action of personality to explain any of these changes: even its exist- 
ence as a psychal ‘‘filter” is usually overlooked. 

With this bias toward the de-personalized, it is little wonder that 
we overlook every form of change that works from the top down: that 
begins with the complex and the unique, the individual human in- 
stance, and then radiates through the dense tissue of society. We find 
it hard, with our pragmatic tendency to equate the subjective with 
the unreal, to suppose that a change in intention and attitude, an up- 
surge of new feelings and a crystallization of ideas around the tiny 
seed of personality, can work any large organic changes within a com- 
munity or a culture. There is nothing in the observed behavior of other 



animals to suggest that a transference of love, comparable to that 
which takes place between a patient and his psychiatrist, can occur 
on a collective scale and bring about a new orientation in a whole 
society. If some change like this actually occurs during one of the 
great religious transformations, our intellectual mentors are hardly 
equipped to observe it: they will look instead for a fluctuation in the 
climate or a change in the system of production to account for the 
observed difference in behavior — if in fact they even notice what has 
taken place. 

To suggest that the person may have a more direct impact on so- 
ciety is, in terms of the positivism that underlies most contemporary 
thought, to introduce something as impalpable, indeed as inadmissibly 
spookish, as the concept of the Aristotelian entelechy in biology. But 
the fact is that this very impersonalism is the source of a radical error 
quite as deep as that which the classic religions originally made in 
giving fanciful accounts of the detailed operations of nature: indeed, 
we have profoundly misread the modes of social change because we 
seek to interpret them only on those levels that can be understood 
without reference to the positive growth of the person. Nietzsche, in 
The Genealogy of Morals, had some genuine insight into the more 
personal aspect of this process; but unfortunately, in characteristic 
German fashion, he mistook it to be the work of a superb master-class, 
imposing its will forcefully upon a servile population. 

But if the failure to understand the nature and function of per- 
sonality is one of the main reasons for our so easily rejecting the 
larger subjective process that works by conversion and imitation, th^re 
are other limitations that spring from internal weaknesses that historic 
religions themselves have disclosed. No single religion has yet done 
justice to every aspect of the human personality: hence the new drama, 
focused on the leading actor, fails to provide parts for many people 
who are not, by nature, close to the biological type of the dominant 

In origin, for example, the Christian religion had no civic or do- 
mestic role for its adherents, as Renan correctly pointed out: Jesus, 
centering on his own special mission and the hope of a quick “end 
of the world,” made no provisions for either vital or social continuity. 
Some twelve hundred-odd years passed before Thomas Aquinas for- 
mulated, with any completeness, the Christian response to situations 
whose very existence Jesus ignored: the just distribution of political 
power or the erotic responses and duties of man and wife. Hinduism, 



it would seem, has been more generous to all types of character and 
disposition: hence a readiness, from the foundation of the nineteenth 
century Brahmo Samaj onward, to acknowledge the moral insights 
and the spiritual validity of Christianity and Islam. But unfortunately 
Hinduism, until our own day, restricted the province of personality, 
through its doctrine of permanent castes: a denial of the capacity for 
personal development and transcendence within a single lifetime. Not 
till the advent of Mahatma Gandhi, deeply permeated through his 
reading of Thoreau and Tolstoy by the liberating thought of Chris- 
tianity, was this fatal obstacle to universality challenged. 

The other handicap is of a different nature. Once the first strong im- 
pulse to honor and love and obey the new parent-image weakens, the 
instinctual patterns of behavior that have been worked out in a stable 
closed society, regain their hold: for the new way, by its very libera- 
tion, is neither as well defined nor as secure as the old way. These 
older tribal attitudes often regain their original position by bending 
to the new universalism and taking it over for their own narrower pur- 
poses. The resurgence of Roman officialism, Roman centralization, 
even Roman materialism and superstition, in the Papacy in the era of 
Gregory the Great, was an instance of this wily maneuver; and many 
of the heresies that were rife between the fourth and the sixth cen- 
turies A.D. may be looked upon as attempts, on the part of the prov- 
inces, to counteract the new imperialism of Rome, masking itself as 
a universal spiritual doctrine. The same thing has, ironically, hap- 
pened in our own day with soviet communism; in the very process of 
inner consolidation, it has come closer to the Muscovite regime of 
Ivan the Terrible than to the cosmopolitan tendencies of Lenin; and it 
now imposes its Russianism on Chinese and Poles alike, as an un- 
challengeable ^‘communist” dogma. 

Since modern science has, until recently, led to a mistrust of per- 
sonality in any form, treating it solely as a source of error and sub- 
jective mischief, it is no wonder that people reject the over-magnifica- 
tion of the person, which in so many classic religions turns a prophet 
of merely human dimensions into a god. That whole process seems 
to defy both science and common sense, and those who worship these 
deities cannot see beyond them. But our contemporaries have even 
better reason for their distrust: tliey have witnessed a fraudulent god- 
hood, projected before their own eyes, in the systematic deification of 
Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. The very success that has attended 


this collective transmogrification only makes it harder to accept a doc- 
trine based on the dynamic impact of the person. 

In the case of these false deities the apparatus of inflation and dis- 
tortion, the propaganda machines, the control of the sources of in- 
formation, the destruction of all contrary evidence and the murder 
of all who could bear living witness to the truth, the enforced prostitu- 
tion of intellectuals who might have exposed the cheat, the constant 
display of oversized images of Big Brother himself — all this has been 
as visible to the innocent onlooker as the contrivances by which an 
inept magician performs his tricks. Even those who most urgently 
wish to be fooled still know how the trick is done. Though Doubting 
Thomases are thrust promptly into concentration camps and torture 
chambers, enough new ones come forth in every generation to make it 
necessary to keep the engines of suppression working vigorously and 

But why should such a show of force be necessary? The answer 
suggests a profound difference between bastard religions and real 
ones, though the same social pressures not merely cause the two spe- 
cies to grow side by side, but — as so often happens in a garden — cause 
undesirable weeds to bear many points of physical resemblance to the 
flowering plants. The saving fact is this: the false Messiah may not 
be imitated and can not be loved; or rather, the more successfully his 
ruthlessness is taken over by others, the more surely will his regime 
break up. Since he does not spontaneously evoke love, the very pres- 
sure to display adulation and reverence must finally make people 
burst forth in extreme hate: witness the fate of Mussolini. 

Consider, too, the careers of Hitler and Stalin: they reflect on a 
large scale that perversion of personality which accompanies a dis- 
integrating society and brings about its final collapse. Both Hitler and 
Stalin, two common men, the first psychopathic and vile, a connoisseur 
of corruption and cruelty, the second shrewd, relentless, supple, but 
likewise brutal, have attempted within their own lifetimes to bend mil- 
lions of men to their will. To effect this they have represented them- 
selves, not as fellow mortals, but as deities worthy of abject worship 
and slavish obedience. They are the authors of all earthly good: the 
conquerors of all evil: by their miraculous touch tyranny becomes de- 
mocracy and conquest liberation. What they have no hopes of achiev- 
ing by persuasion and spontaneous co-operation, they seek to impose 
by force, backed by superstitious observances. Fortunately for man- 
kind, unfortunately for the dictators’ millennial ambitions, they re- 



verse the process by which personality actually operates in history. 
Intent on taking advantage of the superstitious over-magnification of 
personality, which so often takes place even with a cinema star or 
a radio crooner, they invent an auxiliary apparatus of repression to 
hasten the process. 

Thus these leaders sought to impose a God upon their fellow men, 
before they had transformed themselves into the image of a veritable 
person: loving and life-bestowung. Even with mirrors, they could not 
possibly succeed. What happened when Goebbels magnified and multi- 
plied the debased image of Hitler? Ten years of unqualified success 
sufficed to seal Germany’s fate. The devout imitation of Stalin by his 
own henchmen can be counted upon to produce their systematic ex- 
tirpation of each other: this process, begun by Stalin himself, will 
probably be carried on without restriction upon his death — all past 
annals support this prediction. Thus the historic “^Savior Emperor,” 
that darkly benevolent figure who so often arises in a disintegrating 
civilization, only hastens that disintegration by his inherent contempt 
for the normal operations of personality. Precisely because of his love 
of power, he can make no use of the power of love. So the last stage 
in the downfall of a civilization is the mutual extermination of the un- 
loved and the unlovable. 


This discussion should help us now to detect the fallacy in the cur- 
rent hope that traditional religion, particularly Christianity, if it once 
recaptured the hearts of men, might serve to re-direct the demoralized 
energies of Western civilization. Even if the present crisis were not on 
a worldwide scale, no crystallized orthodoxy, Catholic or Protestant, 
Christian or Oriental, seeking merely to recover ground it had occu- 
pied in tlie past, would be adequate to the catastrophic situation man- 
kind now confronts. 

Before any existing body of beliefs can become active again, it must 
both absorb the fresh elements that Western civilization has brought 
into the world during the last three centuries, and it must detach it- 
self from the institutional forms that now limit their power and use- 
fulness. If the ascending path of growth leads from the interior out- 
ward, from abstract formulation to physical embodiment, the way of 
renewal proceeds first in the reverse direction: through disembodiment, 
detachment, disenchantment, finally through the wholesale withdrawal 


of interest from the existing society. In that state, naked and alone, 
the spirit may rise to new illuminations and achieve a new center of 

To preserve the vital impulses of the traditional religions, then, their 
followers must escape from their buildings and their rituals, they must 
withdraw from their prudent attachments to the wealthy and the 
worldly: they must strip themselves voluntarily of many ancient dog- 
matic claims that defy reason and so, in the end, unsettle faith. When 
the process has gone far enough, those who keep to their purpose will 
reach an inner core. At that point, the possibility of unity and common 
action will exist. Only from this inner nodule can fresh growth take 
place; and only by this stripping down of the collective ego, to a 
point where there is neither white nor black, male nor female, Chris- 
tian nor Hindu, Theosophist nor Marxian communist, can a fresh start 
be made. 

Those who still believe that Christianity alone can save our civiliza- 
tion, or rather, deliver modern man from the miscarriages of his civili- 
zation, are perhaps best represented by Arnold J. Toynbee. This ad- 
mirable historian has been driven by his convictions into theology, 
only to become a theologian who, to push his convictions to their con- 
clusion, must turn his back upon history. To arrive at his view, Mr 
Toynbee assumes two things: one is that the Christian faith is alone 
the true one, and that Jesus is the only god who ever took human form. 
The other is that Western civilization, since the breakup of the medi- 
eval synthesis, has merely been monotonously duplicating the errors 
that brought Hellenic civilization low. Into a quite different set of 
symptoms, he reads the same disease and mechanically prescribes the 
same original remedy. 

As for the first assumption, it is beyond both proof or denial, since 
it rests solely on an act of faith. But the notion that God manifested 
himself only once in human form contradicts the postulate of continu- 
ity on which the present philosophy rests: so I must challenge it. On 
its face, this idea is as unreasonable as the notion that a small Semitic 
tribe that settled in Palestine was the exclusive recipient of divine 
favor. Though I have no doubt that tlie advent of Christianity was a 
singular occurrence which re-polarized the existing historic forces, 
similar transformations are equally visible in the other civilizations 
the historian describes. In the sense that Christianity “saved” West- 
ern civilizatigm, Buddhism saved that of India, Confucianism China. 
If the saving, on Toynbee’s later interpretation, was through the forma- 



tion of an otherworldly non-historic society in the form of a Church, 
then Buddhism, at least, like Islam, shows identic characteristics to 

The second assumption, however, is open to challenge on grounds 
common both to Toynbee’s philosophy and to one that contradicts it. 
For the fact is that few of the typical phenomena of a world-weary 
society, such as that which followed the decay of the Olympian reli- 
gion and the fall of the Greek city, did in fact come after the disinte- 
gration of the medieval idolum: there is simply no parallel. Though 
the fourteenth century showed a rapid disintegration throughout West- 
ern Europe, made catastrophic by the effects of the Black Death, the 
period between 1400 and 1900 was marked by an equally rapid re- 
covery. During that half -millennium, indeed, an extraordinary out- 
burst of human energy took place: it led to the colonization of the new 
world, to the mastery of the forces of nature, to the formulation of a 
new scientific outlook, which built up a method for creating valid 
knowledge and for controlling natural forces, and, not least, to a 
swelling wave of sheer animal vitality, marked by a tremendous in- 
crease in world population. Productivity and reproductivity went hand 
in hand. 

Hardly anywhere till the beginning of the twentieth century, or 
rather, till the First World War, were there concrete evidences of 
those shrinkages and lapses that went on so dishearteningly through- 
out the Hellenic world from the end of the fifth century B.C., and 
again in the Roman world, from the second century B.c. onward. Not 
least, the energies of the West showed themselves in acts of spiritual 
creativity. The long line of writers and artists, beginning in literature 
with Shakespeare and Cervantes and Rabelais, in painting with Tinto- 
retto and Breughel, and the equally remarkable line of scientists and 
philosophers, from Kepler and Vesalius and Galileo, from Spinoza 
and Leibnitz and Kant to the men of the twentieth century would not 
indicate a downhill movement in culture, except to someone who was 
standing on his head. To interpret this whole process as essentially a 
negative and non-creative one, as Mr Toynbee is tempted to do, is 
willfully to trim the facts to the theory — if one may speak so harshly 
of the mistakes of such a genial and humane spirit. 

Today the situation, in many quarters, has indeed begun to alter 
drastically for the worse. Within a half-century, a series of devas- 
tating changes, comparable to those that took place in ^e fatal four- 
teenth century as recorded by Petrarch, are now visible: this has hap- 



pened with startling rapidity, as in the spread of cancer cells in a 
body that hitherto seemed healthy. Today we do in fact— and here 
Toynbee’s insight seems both penetrating and valid— face many end- 
processes. Schooled in the ideology of progress, our contemporaries 
have been slow to recognize these dangers, and slower still to correct 
them. Though they were first pointed out by Jacob Burckhardt, in the 
heyday of Victorian complacency, and uncovered once again by Henry 
Adams a generation later, they remained ‘‘unbelievable.” Our devel- 
opment has not been as harmonious and as triumphant as the philoso- 
phers of progress proclaimed: we have now to pay the penalty for our 
one-sidedness and our extemalism, for our devaluation of the per- 
sonal, for our puerile over-valuation of the machine, for our failure 
to embrace the tragic sense of life and to make the sacrifices that 
would, if made in time, have saved our civilization from its corpse- 
strewn Fifth Act. 

This miscarriage of our civilization has come about, however, not 
through a seepage of its faith or a waning of its energies, but through 
an over-concentration of its energies, through an excess of zeal, through 
a fanaticism of scientific rationalism, so proud of its multiplying dis- 
coveries and inventions tliat it continued to run past the danger signals 
on the road, like a drunken engineer on a streamlined train, unaware 
that his inordinate speed multiplies all the natural hazards. 

The difiiculties Mr Toynbee forces himself to read into the earlier 
centuries of “modern Western civilization” did not exist until a much 
later period. For the fact is, the crisis of the fourteenth century acti- 
vated new forces in society that gave life direction and meaning for 
another five centuries: the adventures of exploration and colonization, 
the disciplines of capitalist enterprise and systematic mechanical in- 
vention, the dionysian reactions of the new painters and poets, sym- 
bolized in every aspect by Rabelais’s mythical Gargantua, were all 
life-affirming responses. If there had not been such a wide swing away 
from the cult of life-negation and otherworldly salvation, the decom- 
position of the medieval Church would possibly have gone on even 
more swiftly: and doubtless it would have produced more noxious 
stenches and by-products: its engines of torture might have been pres- 
ently adapted to mass-production, instead of giving way, even in 
Catholic hands, to engines of utilitarian enterprise. 

What this decadent Christian civilization would have been, left to 
itself, one can perhaps detect in those undercurrents of expression from 
Frangois Villon to Baudelaire and the early T. S. Eliot: symbolic 



Fleurs du Mai blooming in what might have been, but for the fresh 
energies released in the fifteenth century, a universal Waste Land. 
Modern historians have yet to appraise how decisively the energies of 
the new industrial civilization, after the eighteenth century, helped to 
rejuvenate the Roman Catholic Church. 

If orthodox Christianity had retained in itself the means of renew- 
ing medieval civilization and averting its later miscarriages, it would 
hardly have lost its grip on Europe. And if the Church was unable to 
save even itself intact, during a crisis when it was still supremely in 
spiritual command, what likelihood is there that it will, with only its 
past insight and its historic forms of conversion, be capable of trans- 
forming peoples that are now only nominally Christian and a world 
that is predominantly non-Christian? The earlier transformation that 
Christianity actually accomplished was of a simpler nature. For the 
original Christian answer to the disintegration of classic culture in- 
volved merely persuading the proud pagan to let go of something he 
no longer confidently possessed, or even actively desired. Until yester- 
day our present civilization showed few signs of such weariness. 

What Toynbee’s special theory of Palingenesis or Re-Birth does 
not take into account is the fact that though many of the negative con- 
ditions that once made Christianity possible, nay imperative, are again 
here, the same basis for reintegration does not exist: the formative 
Christian nucleus, however active through all the centuries, holds now 
only a tiny portion of its original mass. In origin a fresh form in 
classic society, Christianity is now only an encapsulated survival in 
our own: its restoration would betray the very disease of archaicism 
that Toynbee properly rejects in all other religions. 

Survivals, in the nature of things, lack the dynamic force of mutants. 
Once, Christianity was truly oriented to the future: now it is directed 
to perpetuating a past that cannot, except in a mummified form, have 
any continued existence. While the vital truths of Christianity must 
be included in a new synthesis, this holds equally for other religions 
and philosophies. To claim unconditional acceptance for Christian 
dogma as embodied in any of the historic Churches, is to deny the 
essential idea of an emergent divinity; for, as the Victorian poet sang, 
“God fulfills himself in many ways, lest one good custom should cor- 
rupt the world.” 

On this matter, I would set Josiah Royce’s analysis above Toyn- 
bee’s; for long ago Royce touched the quick of our present dilemma. 
In discussing The Problems of Christianity, in 1913, Royce said: “The 

the transformations of man 


office of religion is to aim toward the creation on earth of the Beloved 
Community, the future task of religion is the task of inventing and 
applying the arts which shall win men over to unity and which shall 
overcome their original hatefulness by the gracious love, not of mere 
individuals, but of communities. Now such arts are still to be dis- 
covered. Judge every social device^ every proposed reform, every na- 
tional and local enterprise, by the one test: Does this help toward the 
coming of the Universal Community? If you have a Church, judge 
your own church by this standard; and if your Church does not fully 
meet this standard, aid toward reforming your Church accordingly.” 
That puts the case plainly, and it applies to all our institutions. We 
cannot have unity among the so-called United Nations unless we in- 
voke unity and work for unity at every level of human activity. 

By proper extension, one must apply Royce’s insight. to every other 
form of religion, including, naturally, the Marxian gospel of dialecti- 
cal materialism. No present Catholicism is sufficiently Catholic, no 
universalism sufficiently universal, to join in spirit the divided nations 
and make possible our imperative goal: One World. 

This perhaps explains why the most universal of religious doctrines, 
that of Baha-’ullah, the founder of the Bahai religion, has not so far 
prevailed. For the better part of a century the adherents of Bahaism 
have proclaimed the unity of mankind and the need for world order: 
their noble intentions, their timely exhortations, their catholic injunc- 
tions, represent man’s best hopes. But one prophet more, one religion 
more, no matter how enlightened his aims, is not what the situation 
requires; nor can rational persuasion alone bring about the essential 
conversion. When the overall change comes it will spread rapidly from 
a multitude of centers: it will infuse a religious sense of a common 
purpose and end, even in departments of life not recognizably reli- 
gious. To be ready for that opportune moment, each religion, each 
secular philosophy, each going institution, must widen and deepen 
its own vein of universalism. 

Not by accident, perhaps, one must turn to a Hindu thinker, rather 
than a Christian one, for an explicit statement of this new universal- 
ism. I find it in a passage from Keshab Chandra Sen: 

‘T believe in the Church Universal, the deposit of all ancient wis- 
dom and the receptacle of modern science, which recognizes in all 
prophets and saints a harmony, in all scriptures a unity, and through 
all dispensations a continuity, which abjures all that separates and 
divides and always magnifies unity and peace, which harmonizes rea- 



son and faith, yoga and bhakti, asceticism and social duty . . . and 
which shall make all nations and sects one kingdom and one family 
in the fullness of time.” In that spirit, only in that spirit, will the 
classic religions find regeneration: only so can all nations and kin- 
dreds and peoples, to use the words of the Apocalypse, come within 
speaking distance of each other. 


Those who are looking for a change to take place, along the classic 
lines that Buddhism and Christianity and Mohammedism followed, 
are applying, to the unique events of our time, a mode of thought that 
over-weights the traditional and the repetitive, and ignores the possi- 
bility of a new act of creation. But the change that made it possible 
to redeem the Roman world needed a thousand years for its consum- 
mation. We know that the living places of our planet may be wiped 
out, and our planet itself denuded of life, through the wholesale mis- 
applications of scientific power, unless the change that alters the con- 
dition of modern man and the direction of his activities takes place in 
much shorter order: almost, as one reckons historic time, within the 
twinkling of an eye. 

No matter how eflScacious the example of Buddha or Jesus may have 
been, we cannot put our faith in renewal by a similar process; or 
rather, though the process itself may be similar, the time in which 
it operates must be, abbreviated. How can this be done? By looking, 
not for a single transforming agent, but for millions upon millions of 
them, in every walk of society, in every country: a democratic trans- 
formation, dispersed and widespread, to replace those centralized and 
authoritarian images which would today, under our current nihilism, 
be either ineffectual or tyrannous. 

Let us confess it: such a change has never yet taken place in the 
past. But the conditions which now make this kind of change impera- 
tive have never existed either: the extent of the catastrophe that threat- 
ens gives the measure of the transformation that will be necessary in 
order to master it. But the fact that there are no favorable historic 
precedents is not, for the philosophy advanced in these pages, an un- 
climbable barrier: we have learned nothing valuable about man’s na- 
ture and destiny unless we have learned that man holds, in far larger 
degree than the physical universe, the possibility of continuous crea- 
tion. Thanks to the very form our institutions and machines have taken. 



with our multifold channels of communication, millions of minds are 
now aware of man’s dilemma and awakened to the danger that threat- 
ens all life: if they are not fully awakened today, they may be roused 

even to the point of action — tomorrow. 

This fact perhaps makes possible the change of attitude and purpose 
that will halt the processes of disintegration before they have reached 
the critical point where they can no longer be controlled. Though no 
one mind can impart his own dynamic of renewal to a world that is 
now radically endangered by its paranoia, its incapacity to foster love, 
a wholesale quickening of many minds might restore the collective bal- 
ance. If but one person in ten were fully awakened today, fully capable - 
of exercising his higher centers of intelligence and morality, the fatal 
processes that we have set in motion could be arrested, and. a new 
direction set. 

On that possibility, mankind’s security and salvation now seem to 
hang. The task of the individual Messiah of the past now devolves 
equally on all men: likewise the burden of sacrifice. No Diogenes need 
run through the streets with his lantern looking for an honest man : no 
John the Baptist need perform a preliminary cleansing and absolution 
upon others, while waiting for the true prophet to come. Those are 
the images and the expectations of another era. Today each one of us 
must turn the light of the lantern inward upon himself; and while he 
stays at his post, performing the necessary work of the day, he must 
direct every habit and act and duty into a new channel: that which 
will bring about unity and love. Unless each one of us makes this 
obligation a personal one, the change that must swiftly be brought 
about cannot be effected, 

i But all this is beyond historical precedent and probability? Granted. 
lAn impossible dream? No, For why should we readily hail marvels 
like the transmutation of matter and energy, issuing out of the phy- 
,sical world, without our admitting the possibility of equally radical 
departures issuing out of the subjective world, which is itself the 
source of our mastery of physical phenomena? All challenges to ani- 
mal lethargy and inertia begin in a dream; and every dream is ^‘im- 
possible” until the dreamer heeds it, communicates it, develops the 
rational means of creating its own fulfillment: until the dream, pass- 
ing into consciousness as an inchoate impulse and stir, at first but a 
shadowy shape, works itself out into a new reality: the reality of the 
paintings of the Ajanta caves, of The Divine Comedy, of the Pyramids 
of the Mayas and Aztecs: the reality of life lived in symbol-laden 



cities under justice and law. Only one thing is needful: faith in the 
dream itself; for the very ability to dream is the first condition of the 
dream^s realization. And which is better? to sink into a nightmare, 
equally self-fabricated, though we close our eyes to our own constant 
part in this pathological process— the nightmare of extermination, in- 
cineration, and universal death?— or to dream of the alternative proc- 
esses that will endow individual men and the race at large with a 
new plan of life? Better the possible self-deception of this dream than 
the grim fact of that nightmare. 

The new age will begin when a sufficient number of men and women 
in every land and culture take upon themselves the burden men once 
sought to transfer to an Emperor, a Messiah, a dictator, a single God- 
like man. That is the ultimate lesson of democracy: the burden cannot 
be shifted. But if each one of us, in his own full degree, accepts this 
desperate condition for survival, that which seemed a threat to man s 
further development will be transformed into a dynamic opportunity. 




The doctrines of Progress and Evolution both supplied modem man 
with certain valuable insights absent from most traditional ethical 
systems: particularly with the notion that no static system of ethics 
could do justice to the still-unfathomed possibilities of human devel- 
opment. What had once seemed to be -final revelations of value and 
purpose now became limited, provisional, local, relative, the product 
of historic events that are open to the correction and amplification of 
further experience. Exit Plato’s Republic. 

But neither doctrine could supply modern man with the materials 
needed for a more adequate morality, since one must first formulate 
a positive measure of the good before the word progress in an ethical 
sense can have meaning. Without a concept of purpose, without an 
image of perfection, biological evolution, even when it embraces man’s 
special nature and needs, can mean nothing more than the procession 
of more complicated organic forms in a continuing time-series. The 
arrest of such forms at any particular point remains meaningless, or 
at least morally neutral, unless some higher goal is definable. 

Now man is not merely the unfinished but the self-fabricating ani- 
mal. What other organisms do by purely organic means, in and through 
the structure of their own bodies, man does by extra-organic means, 
sometimes within his lifetime, or at least within a few centuries. 
Through his culture, man continually remakes himself, recasts his 
functions, and gives form to his environment. That will-to-form is it- 
self one of his main distinctions. Man is, as it were, the leopard who 
knows how to change his spots; or rather, he is the creature who has 
found the secret of becoming at will a fish-man, a bird-man, or a mole- 

man — even an angel-man or a demon-man, though angels and demons 




are as lacking in nature as warm-blooded animals were in the days 
when the great reptiles alone reigned. 

Instead of taking life as it comes and quietly adapting himself to 
external conditions, man is constantly evaluating, discriminating, 
choosing, reforming and transforming at every moment of his exist- 
ence; and this has been true throughout his history. By conscious se- 
lection, man increasingly imposes his own will on nature and not least 
on that ultimate product of nature^ his own self. ‘‘Choosing is cre- 
ating!” And the goal of tliat choice, in man, is his own fuller and 
further development. No natural history of man can omit, without 
grave distortion and error, the place of values in his existence. And 
any scientific anthropology that attempts to ignore values, as outside 
the pale of science, or to dismiss values as culture-bound and so self- 
enclosed, must lack the ability to describe the process of human de- 
velopment, since it has no criterion for distinguishing arrest from 
progress in the department where it most matters. 

Doubtless simple modes of estimation and appraisal begin far be- 
low the level of man. Every creature must distinguish food from poi- 
son, security from danger, friend from foe; even the lowly amoeba, 
as H. S. Jennings describes its behavior, seems to know what it wants. 
Judgments of value long antedate judgments of fact; and no judg- 
ment of fact is uncolored by values, since even the desire for neutrality 
or unemotionality is itself an expression of human value. The very 
mode of science that proclaims the non-existence of values in nature 
is itself the product of man’s over-valuation of mechanical order, and 
his special regard for those elementary truths that can be established 
best on an impersonal basis. 

Man can apparently make intellectual errors of a flagrant kind 
without suffering too seriously in consequence: indeed, not till man 
seeks to form a coherent world picture does it matter to him that his 
own uncorrected fantasies have distorted or utterly effaced many patent 
objective facts. Knowledge of good and evil, on the other hand, lies 
at the very root of human existence. However poor man’s positive 
knowledge may be, he must constantly affix positive or negative values 
to every event, in order to guide his own life in the direction of de- 
velopment. To know the difference between right and wrong, between 
good and evil, is the basis of survival, even before it becomes the con- 
dition of renewal. In this department, any serious misappraisal will 
have formidable consequences. 



Most of man’s evaluations and choices, naturally, were made long 
ago by the society and culture in which the person finds himself. Sig- 
nificantly, in their origin, the words ethics and morals are equivalent 
to habits and customs; and firm social habits, since they are the very 
basis of orderly and calculable behavior, are fundamental to all higher 
forms of development. While we may rise above our habits into free- 
dom, we must never sink below them into random caprice. Life would 
be one long blundering frustrating confusion if each generation had 
to discover entirely by itself what was good for it. That is why a 
purely experimental ethics, worked out from day to day in the light 
of the situations encountered in a single lifetime, will ordinarily lead 
to disaster. (If there may once have been doubts about this observa- 
tion, the experience of the last two generations has harshly confirmed 
its truth.) But even when human conduct is based on sound tradition and 
guided further by reason, sound choices are not automatic or infallible; 
nor is there any assurance that good intentions will produce good re- 
sults. Even when values are well established and widely assimilated, 
they must still in each particular case be recognized as appropriate 
to the occasion and carried out. The habitual, the traditional, the con- 
servatively moral, are necessary starting, points for the proper conduct 
of life; but they do not in themselves guarantee man’s development. 

The reasons for this limitation should be plain. As human life rises 
above its primitive concern with bodily security, the nature of good 
and evil becomes less obvious. In all the higher expressions of life 
there is need for greater intelligence and sensibility and understanding 
to aid in discrimination, and for greater wakefulness, to recognize oc- 
casions for intervention or departures from the prescribed norm. The 
higher the development, the wider the margin of freedom — but also 
the more serious the consequences of perverse desires and bad choices. 
There is hardly a phase of human life, from diet to dress, from sexual 
practices to religious ceremonial, that does not show regressions from 
sound choices, lapses sometimes made far down in the evolutionary 
scale. The passage from tribal society, where goods have been stabil- 
ized and routinized, toward an open society, where goods are subject 
to re-appraisal and new choices become possible, is a critical one in 
human development; for often a sound instinctual pattern may be 
destroyed by half-baked intelligence long before anything worthy of 
taking its place has been achieved. The self-confident iconoclasts in 
Bernard Shaw’s The Philanderers or Getting Married knew far less 



about the nature of sex, love, and the family than the fecund Victorian 
couples against whose prim household gods they were in revolt. 

Man’s constant re-shaping of himself, his community, his environ- 
ment, does not lead to any final state of equilibrium. Even the notion 
of self-perfection implies the further projection of a self beyond that 
which may be momentarily achieved: only death can end the dynamics 
of growth, crisis, and transcendence. And tempting though it may be 
to do so, one must not confuse the good with what is socially acceptable, 
or that which promotes the adjustment of the self to the group or the 
community. Pragmatists and totalitarians have both made this radical 
error; by their insistence upon conformity to an external pattern, 
whether imposed by authority or by a mechanistic apparatus, they have 
proved hostile to creative processes that have a subjective and internal 

There are moments when the continued growth in the person de- 
mands the endurance of maladjustment: moments that may be accom- 
panied by complete alienation from the community, and require a 
readiness to encounter the active hostility of its members. These mo- 
ments are known to saints and martyrs at the very point when they are 
exerting their unique influence: indeed, every innovator and inventor, 
even on a more pedestrian level, must often bear the penalties of his 
nonconformity in rejection and poverty. Without such oppositions and 
tensions, without such lonely defiance, the pressures of the group might 
stifle all growth. In some degree, nonconformity is a necessary con- 
dition for human development; and that is why the age that produced 
an abundance of nonconformists in Western Europe was one of the 
most creative and fruitful the world has known. 

The attempt to shift the ethical center from the person to the group 
overlooks their actual relationship. The group molds the person and 
gives him a function in his community, provides him with a role to 
play, bringing out the possibilities of social man: but the person, when 
he has absorbed and made over what the community provides, in turn, 
by his very, detachment, gives the group itself the possibility of acting 
with some of the freedom of the person. Eventually the person must 
take the group with him on the path of development or perish for lack 
of support. Nationalism unfortunately misreads this interplay between 
person and group: from Fichte onward, the philosophers of national- 
ism have held that tlie nation encloses all possible goods: it falsely 
identifies the good with the tribal, the customary, the traditional life 
of kin and kitib, while it identifies tixe not-good or evil with the out- 



sider, the foreigner, the barbarian, “Blut und Boden,” “Sacro Ego- 
ismo,” the “American way of life,” thus become mythic deities, whose 
worship inflates nationalists with a spurious sense of their own virtue, 
spurious since every other community has a similar set of tribal gods 
and a self-sufficient ideology just as fatal to human unity and co-op- 

Even in the somewhat more innocent form of a wholly social theory 
of ethics, the identification of the person with the group overlooks the 
very condition that is essential for their reciprocal development: the 
maintenance of tension between the actual and the potential, between 
achieved goods and possible ones. To make the good consist in con- 
formity to the group pattern does away with this tension in the name 
of a pre-established harmony and conformity. So far from restoring 
human values that have been lost during the last three centuries, na- 
tionalism, in both its naive and its sophisticated forms, whether demo- 
cratic or totalitarian, would attempt to restore an obsolete tribal pat- 
tern of identity and unanimity. The engines for creating such a limited 
human type are more powerful today than ever before: for the psy- 
chological laboratory and the propaganda machine and the school are 
now re-enforced by the terrors of the corrective labor camp and the tor- 
ture chamber. The final outcome of that process has been foreshadowed 
by more than one imaginative writer, from Capek to Zamiatin: no- 
where more horribly, perhaps, than in George Orwell’s realistic night- 
mare: 1984. It comes to nothing less than the annihilation of man. 


Life is the source of all human goods, even those that transcend it. 
To foster life, to select higher forms of life, and to project further 
goals for life’s development — this is the grand human imperative. All 
our special obligations and duties, as citizens and workers, relate to 
this higher one. To serve life well, over a long span of time, man’s 
immediate purposes must, in the long run, fit into such larger organic 
and cosmic purposes as he can discern and interpret. As a species, man 
has a moi'al obligation to be intelligent, as well as an intellectual ob- 
ligation to further his own moral and esthetic development. 

Man’s own needs and functions are many and various: what sets 
them apart from their purely animal counterparts is that they lend 
themselves to a far greater degree of elaboration, for they draw on 
emotions, feelings, and fantasies whose expressions overlie and some- 



times almost conceal the organic purpose they serve. What begins as 
a bare physical need becomes elaborated into ritual and, under pres- 
sure of a formative idea and purpose, may rise into a dramatic action. 
Take the simplest case, the need for food: common to all animals. If 
that need halted in man at the instinctual level, it would remain like 
even more pressing needs, those for air and water — too peremptory to 
be a source of value. But the expression of the need for food is not 
confined to the digestive tract: it awakens activities and interests that 
involve the whole organism; to get food and make it fit for his eating, 
man uses a hundred ingenious devices for hunting and cultivating, for 
preparing and preserving, that no other animal has ever, in their im- 
mense variety, approached. Expanded by this total engagement of the 
organism, the original need, once capable of being satisfied on the 
crudest terms, becomes transformed into a series of social and personal 
acts. Eventually esthetic delight and gustatory excitement, hospitality 
and friendly intercourse, even religious ritual, enter into both the get- 
ting and eating of food. This tempering of greedy desire, this em- 
broidery of need, this "'working over of the raw fact,” in short, this 
involvement in man’s whole nature characterizes a large part of his 

Though the value of food for man originates in his physiological 
structure it does not remain there. Even the imperious and unbearable 
stimulus of extreme hunger may be curbed by a cultural taboo, like 
that of the Moslems against pork. So, too, the infant who is offered 
food without friendly intercourse and love, as in an old-fashioned or- 
phanage, may reject it or fail to be nourished by an otherwise adequate 
diet: the very processes of digestion prosper only if re-enforced by 
attitudes and feelings that have no direct bearing on the function in 
hand. Just as thought itself may be partly interpreted as an arrested 
impulse to action, which allows a wider canvass of the whole situation 
and a more adequate response, so value may be described as a need 
that has found expression by a circuitous route that draws into it other 
functions of the organism and brings about a wider sharing of the oc- 
casion with other members of society. The organic need subserves sym- 
bolic expression: in the act of satisfying his wants man makes them 
more interesting. 

What we properly call a value in life is precisely this organic mix- 
ture of need, interest, feeling, purpose, and goal: the physical or phys- 
iological impact of a need is only a small part of its expression. It 
follows, then, that a scheme of life founded on raw human needs alone. 



without any further efflorescence in values, must remain at a sub-human 
level; for a life that is stripped, in theory or in fact, to the ingestion 
of so many calories of food, the performance of a specified number 
of man-hours of work, the achievement of a certain number of or- 
gasms, is incapable of embracing the social and personal satisfactions 
to be found in eating, working, and mating. Even the most primitive 
cultures at the lowest margin of subsistence do more for their members 
than this. 

Perhaps the best recent discussion of values was that of Dr Edward 
L. Thorndyke, in Human Nature and Society. This perceptive treatise 
is all the more remarkable because it came from a psychologist who 
had attempted for the better part of his life to establish purely quanti- 
tative methods, without reference to values, in psychology. But even 
he showed a tendency to define values as goods in themselves. Thus 
Thorndyke said, by way of illustration, that ‘'sunshine is in general 
better than inky darkness,” curiously ignoring the conditions essential 
for sleep; or that laughing is better than wailing, overlooking the fact 
that grief makes laughter acutely painful, and that when one is con- 
fronted by an occasion for grief, the ability to express it in tears and 
sounds of anguish is preferable, even on the lowest grounds of health, 
to bottling it up. (Note that the suppression of tears and the abandon- 
ment of the traditional rituals of grief in modern civilization, mainly 
through our withdrawal of interest from death, in itself points to an 
erosion of values.) 

There are no intrinsic goods apart from the purposes and needs of 
men: only in relation to him do some goods become absolute. The 
only imconditional good, as Immanuel Kant truly observed, is the will- 
to-goodness. Values arise out of the natural occasions for living; and 
they serve to magnify beyond their immediate deserts the processes of 
satisfaction and fulfillment. Conceivably all our needs could be satis- 
fied directly in a push-button world, contrived exclusively to our con- 
venience; but such a life would be more empty than even that of an 
embryo, since it would lack the specific conditions for human growth 
— ^namely, that in the course of fulfilling our needs we should also 
enter, by this useful back door, into the domain of beauty and sig- 

Now, in all going cultures, man is born into a world of established 
values: here every instinctual need is broadened, yet partly concealed, 
by a social form, as the naked body is soon covered by decorations or 
clothes. The production and conservation of values is one of the main 



concerns of human existence: all that a man does and is depends upon 
his taking part in this process. Thorndyke is right, therefore, in re- 
marking that if one graded value from the intensely good to the in- 
tensely bad, only a small part of the things that one does and acts and 
handles are of a neutral nature: they are either life-furthering or life- 
impeding. “Values to man and men,” says Thorndyke, “may be in- 
finitesimal, and approximate a neutral zone or zero between good and 
bad, for many or all persons under most or even all conditions. It con- 
sequently does little harm to think of the value, say, of having one 
grain of dirt washing to the sea or dredged out of the sea as zero. But 
the number of events which are really neither good nor bad in the 
slightest degree is much smaller than common thinking would esti- 
mate.” . . . These facts of natural history are important to bear in 
mind: ethics rests on them. 

Life is a selective process: that is one of the conditions for all 
growth. Though the organism is sometimes pictured as a sort of filter 
or membrane, these figures hardly do more justice to its activities 
than the neutral blank sheet of paper on which Locke erroneously sup- 
posed the environment left its definite mark. For the fact is that all 
organisms are striving and forward-moving creatures: even their most 
passive responses are still determined by general goals derived from 
their organic plan of life: they actively reach out for one kind of good 
and reject another. Some of the selections that the organism makes 
have become so deeply ingrained in its behavior that it cannot, even 
under pressure, even under threat of defeat, alter its disposition: it 
must stick to the goods of its own species, the goods that honor its own 
style of life and that allow it to fill out, in time, its proper shape. 

Many of these commitments are so old and have involved so many 
co-adaptations with other species that it is impossible for the organ- 
ism, so to say, to change its mind. Though faced with starvation through 
lack of herbage, sheep do not become ravening creatures, living off 
rabbits and mice: their very tooth structure is a guarantee against their 
so defying their own sheepish nature. By contrast, man lives in an in- 
finitely various environment and his choices, through his wide range 
of inventions and adaptations, are multifold. Relatively, man is an 
uncommitted animal. As compared with other animals, man is so un- 
set in his ways, so dynamic, so full of unfathomed potentialities, so 
capable of coming up with more than one answer to the same question, 
that the tasks of selection become major ones for him. 



Indeed, the higher man rises in his own development, the less fixed 
are his responses and the wider his range of choices: likewise the 
greater opportunity he encounters for perversions, maladaptations, 
that more limited animals escape. The institution of war is such a 
large-scale perversion : in origin, it may have sprung out of a struggle 
for a limited food supply in a narrow area; and this act may have 
been prolonged beyond its natural limits because it lent itself to ritual- 
istic elaboration, which lessened its deadliness and turned it for primi- 
tives into an exciting game. With the very advance of civilization war 
became a collective drama: not justified by animal needs or tangible 
economic gains, but expressive of ideas and purposes of a peculiarly 
human sort: irrational but imperious. So in modern times this mon- 
strous negation of values has captured and drained off energies that 
should have gone to the culture of cities and the development of man. 

In making evaluations to further his own growth, civilized man 
merely carries forward habits that took form at a much lower level 
of organic development. What is abnormal, what is fatal, is to have 
no standards of value and no methods of evaluation. When David 
Hume reduced value to whatever served impulse, he took the first 
intellectual step toward the nihilism that threatens to engulf our age. 
Today, unfortunately, a large number of people, not merely Soviet 
Commissars but appointed leaders of democracy, show evaluation 
blocks, similar to the “reading blocks” which teachers sometimes en- 
counter in young children. Such children often have normal organs 
and normal intelligence: but they have never performed the mental 
leap which gives to groups of letters a name, a sound, and ultimately 
a meaning that, when treated as separate visual elements, they lack. 
People with evaluation blocks can go through all the operations of in- 
telligence, and they can reason correctly from premise to conclusion: 
but they fail to attach positive and negative values to their actions, and 
therefore, from their own vantage point, they can do no evil. They 
reserve the term bad solely for the behavior of people or conditions 
that oppose their impulses and obstruct their private plans. 

Such moral idiocy, sometimes naked, sometimes disguised, is the 
typical response of disintegrating civilization to its own aimlessness: 
with Diogenes, it reduces human life in general to the level of a dog’s 
life, or, with the amiable Dr Kinsey, it reduces human sexual needs to 
their valueless common denominator with even unrelated species of ani- 
mals. The most flagrant example of this devaluation was the adoption 
by the democracies, during the Second World War, of the fascist prac- 



tice of random extermination, by bomb and fire and atomic fission, from 
the air. This moral debasement was followed up in the United States 
by a wholesale concentration, after 1945, upon instruments of geno- 
cide, from the atom bomb to biological weapons of an even more wan- 
ton and uncontrollable order, as a cheap substitute for war: a gross 
military error and a moral sin for which many innocent Americans 
may yet lose their lives. . . . But where was the moral reaction that 
should have taken place, after 1945, if not during the Second World 
War, against such anti-human purposes? There is but a short step from 
such moral perversion to rabid madness. Only a civilization that had 
everywhere extirpated its living sense of good and evil could make 
such a fatal mistake. 


“What is the good of life?” This question, certainly, does not ordi- 
narily occur to a person in health and prosperity, when the appetites 
of the body provide their own answers: then every minor good seems 
to bear witness to the general good of merely being; and to prolong 
that being brings its own reward. But we know that this question, ris- 
ing as a wail of despair, occurs on a grand scale when a civilization 
is losing its grip; when its daily activities are not self-sustaining and 
self-rewarding; when every effort meets an obstacle, when every plan 
miscarries and every new turning seems to take one farther from one’s 
goal, To answer that question satisfactorily at these moments — and we 
are now in the midst of such a dismaying Time of Troubles — requires 
both historic and cosmic perspective. 

The great use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts it.” 
No doctrine of ethical conduct that overlooks this wider destiny for 
person and community has anything but a stopgap value. Though 
habits of discrimination exist below the human level, the sense of 
conscious participation in a durable, all-enclosing purpose is an en- 
tirely human one: perhaps it came to man first in the Chaldean faith 
that his life was in some way bound by iron necessity to the course of 
the planets. Scores of centuries elapsed before man found evidence 
for purpose, not in astrological conjunctions, but in the structure and 
function of living organisms, in relation to their environment and their 
projected existence through time. 

Now this sense of a presiding purpose in its most common form has 
been attached to a theory of divine revelation. In the general reaction 



against theology during the last three centuries the concept of purpose 
itself was accordingly lost: instead of finding a purposeful world, sci- 
entific materialism professed to discover only a blind accidental one. 
As a result, many people still tend to overlook the immense body of 
evidence in favor of purpose that has piled up since Darwin’s day. 
One of the strictest and most meticulous of bio-chemists, Lawrence J. 
Henderson, even demonstrated by an analysis of the properties of the 
physical world that the very disposition of chemical elements, with 
their specific properties, on this planet would indicate purpose, in 
terms of eventual life. While accident occurs throughout nature, and 
statistical order largely governs the physical world, all manifestations 
of life bear evidence of a sustaining and widening purpose: a purpose 
that begins to achieve consciousness in man. 

Spinoza, in his Ethics, dismissed the notion of cosmic purpose, or 
finalism, by saying that ^'nature has no fixed end in view, and ... all 
final causes are merely fabrications of men.” During the last three 
centuries that attitude became ingrained among men of science; but 
Spinoza’s dismissal, for all that, was more than a little specious, be- 
cause there is a great difference between having no fixed aim and hav- 
ing no aim at all. To say that one has laid out at the beginning no 
rigidly pre-ordained route is n^t the same as to say that one has no 
provisional destination. 

At the time Spinoza uttered this judgment there was, indeed, good 
ground for his taking that position; for the scholastic belief in final 
causes (purposeful processes and ultimate goals) had led to an at- 
tempt to deduce all the forms of existence from the presumed nature 
of God. Fortified by such dogmatic convictions, scholars avoided de- 
tailed inquiry into cause and effect and neglected concrete observation: 
they presumed, for example, that the course of the planets was a cir- 
cular one, because the circle was supposedly more perfect than any 
other figure; or they imputed to providence the detailed evolution of 
nature, without being curious as to the methods and means, taking for 
granted that the world had been designed, from the beginning, with 
a single view to man’s use. In this crude form the doctrine of final 
causes was an encumbrance to thought; and before it could be more 
adequately re-stated it no doubt needed to be completely rejected. 

Two generations ago, a fresh attempt at a more adequate formula- 
tion of the theory of purposes and ends in nature was made by a 
French philosopher, Paul Janet: a treatise too premature, perhaps, to 
have the influence it deserved. This effort must now be carried further. 



in order to make intelligible the very facts that causal inquiries in 
many sciences, particularly biology, have revealed. Perhaps the sim- 
plest way of re-stating the doctrine of finalism is to say that in organic 
change the present may be as much determined by the future as by 
the past: that causal mechanisms operate in organisms precisely by 
being attached to goals. At the human level, hope, aspiration, plan 
and design modify the impact of past events and serve in some meas- 
ure to order their further transformation. This is not to say that ends 
are wholly predetermined or fixed, even in brute nature: still less to 
say that the acknowledgment of purpose in nature frees one from the 
operation of mechanical processes or releases the observer from de- 
tailed investigation of causes and consequences. So far from making 
mechanistic interpretation unnecessary, finalism does just the opposite: 
it makes it more significant. 

Speaking mythically, one may say that Nature works according to 
plan; but, as with organic works of architecture, the plan may be re- 
vised in the very middle of construction. Hence to read nature’s in- 
tentions too specifically or too comprehensively is as deceptive as to 
suggest that she lacks them entirely. When one conceives final causes, 
one does not, as Janet points out, have to think of a hidden force or 
Aristotelian entelechy, acting without physical agents: that is the straw 
man erected by scientists who seek to get along without acknowledging 
teleology, because this dummy is so easy to demolish. ‘‘He who says 
end,” Janet goes on to say, “at the same time says means — ^that is, a 
cause fit to produce such an effect. To discover this cause is in no way 
to destroy the idea of end.” 

Janet’s whole discussion of this problem seems to me so pertinent 
that since his book is now inaccessible I shall quote a whole passage: 

“We give the name of end to the last phenomenon of the series, in 
reference to which all the others are co-ordinated; and this co-ordina- 
tion of phenomena and actions is explained for us in the simplest man- 
ner by the supposition of an anterior idea of the end. I know very well, 
for instance, that if I had not beforehand the idea of a house I could 
not co-ordinate all the phenomena whose conjunction is necessary to 
construct a house. I know very well that it has never happened to me 
to succeed in making a phrase by taking words at random from a dic- 
tionary; I know that I have never succeeded in composing an air by 
touching at random the keys of a piano. ... I know that I cannot 
co-ordinate the elements of matter in a whole without having previously 
formed the idea of that whole. In a word, I know that with me every 



induction, and every art, supposes a certain end, a certain finality, or 
as we have expressed ourselves, a certain determination of the present 
by the future.” 

This issue was evaded by the leading thinkers of the nineteenth cen- 
tury: theories of laissez faire, which mystically assigned to blind 
chance the role of a rational providence, and to cumulative accidents 
the effect of functional design, were transferred from the world of 
business to that of nature. Properly rejecting Archdeacon Paley^'s con- 
ception of an Eternal Clockmaker, who designed and wound up the 
universe, fashionable thought also denied that clocks showed, by their 
structure, an intention to tell time: it did not occur to them that the 
clockmaker and the timekeeper might both be concealed in the clock 
and indistinguishable from it. Unfortunately for this curious form of 
mysticism, which flattered itself on being hard-headed, the facts of 
teleology are conspicuous throughout the organic world. Such facts 
cannot be explained away by the glib device of referring to mechanisms 
of adaptation. That is a semantic contradiction. For what is a mech- 
anism but a specialized contrivance for producing a predetermined re- 
sult? In short, a conspicuous example of teleology. 

The alternative to this slippery logic was to make Chance itself be- 
come a sort of operative entelechy: this is the role that Darwin actually 
assigned it, in his non-Lamarckian moments, in the guise of Natural 
Selection. Chance was not merely responsible for variations in the 
organism, which might lead in time to the complete transformation of 
species: it was also responsible for co-adaptations, like that between 
the yucca plant and the yucca moth, equally positive, equally remark- 
able, in the ‘^environment,” Likewise, presumably, chance was respon- 
sible for cumulative changes in a single direction, since in many in- 
stances small changes would not have the effect of enhancing the pros- 
pects for survival until the entire change was accomplished: that is, 
until the designated co-operation had been achieved. 

In short, an age that rejected miracles assigned to chance a series 
of purposeful transformations quite as extraordinary, on the doctrine 
of statistical probability itself, as any amount of special supernatural 
intervention. And unfortunately, our ethical life during the past cen- 
tury has been undermined by the vulgar assumption that this miracu- 
lous but purposeless system of nature corresponds to the actual world. 
That conclusion is without foundation. 

Must one not hold that the argument in favor of final causes has 
not been closed? Just the contrary, it is only now since we are in pos- 



session of sufficient data^ drawn from the detailed investigation of 
countless biological and social phenomena, that the whole argument 
for final causes, that is, for a teleology pervading all life, can be con- 
fidently opened again. Once we get over this hurdle in dealing with 
nature, we shall have no difficulty in applying the concepts of purpose 
and ‘‘plan of life” to man. 


To say that life is by nature goal-seeking and directional, and that 
human life in ever greater measure is consciously and deliberately 
purposeful is not to describe except in the vaguest outline the nature 
of this purpose, or to forecast, with the slightest sense of sureness, 
life’s ultimate goals. At this point, he who pretends to have an ex- 
planation, or even a system of explanation, not merely lacks modesty: 
he shows plainly he has not taken in the dimensions of the problem 
itself. By analogy, we may infer that a grand design has encompassed 
all the little designs whose pattern we can trace; but that pervading 
unity must be taken on faith. 

True: certain nearer goals are not completely hidden from keen 
analysis or deep intuition. History provides us with suggestive paral- 
lels. Six centuries before the invention of airplanes and motor cars, 
the monk, Roger Bacon, predicted these mechanical contrivances : from 
his knowledge of processes at work in himself, he was able to anticipate 
“the next development of man.” Glanvill, in the seventeenth century, 
predicted the possibility of communicating at a distance without visible 
material means. Where design is present, a fragment may give a suffi- 
cient clue to the whole. 

But since life is not a circular process, doomed to endless cycles of 
recurrence, each emergence to a higher level brings with it unexpected 
and unpredictable elements. Even apart from this, many purposes are 
not in fact consummated; and many consummations remain cryptic 
and hidden until they actually come about. The game of “cheat the 
prophet” as Chesterton called it in The Napoleon of Notting Hill is 
doubtless as old as prophecy. Even nature seems to change her mind: 
having invented a painless method of childbirth in the marsupials, she 
capriciously threw that valuable invention on the scrap-heap and elabo- 
rated the clumsy, painful system still used by the placentals: highly 
difficult and dangerous to a creature with man’s capacious brain case 
at birth. 



Obviously, nature has left no blueprints around, to disclose her 
purposes and her final intentions. And the process by which purpose 
and design have appeared in tlie universe seems just the opposite of 
that sudden miracle by which, in the Book of Genesis, God telescoped 
the work of eons into six days, and created man as his crowning labor 
in this swift operation. If man himself were the end nature originally 
had in view, it might seem absurd — at very least downright incom- 
petent — to arrive at that end by such a protracted and devious route. 
The answer to this dilemma, as I have pointed out, is provided by the 
doctrine of emergence: processes are not merely modified by their 
ends, but, when they reach a certain point of development, they reveal 
unexpected characteristics which surpass the limitations of their earlier 
conditions. As in the creation of a work of art, there is a reciprocal 
interaction between the artist’s intention and the means he uses: so 
that the final result, no matter how firmly conceived at the beginning, 
usually brings with it a considerable element of surprise. But design 
is needed, before one can have events sufficiently out of the pattern 
to be “unexpected” : in a world governed wholly by chance, only order 
would astonish. 

Every purpose is transformed by the medium and the mechanism 
through which it is expressed: wherefore every distant end undergoes 
a change during the time taken to reach the last stage. On the analogy 
with art, as sentience and feeling and intelligence developed in the 
evolution of species, the idea of man, so to say, became clearer. By 
the time man emerged from earlier animal species, however, certain 
irrevocable decisions had been made, some of them highly embarrass- 
ing to the new creature who was to appear. Thus nature’s abortive but 
stubbornly persisted-in experiment, of making the nose the dominant 
sense organ, had finally been abandoned in favor of the eye and ear: 
a great aid to man’s dawning intelligence. Some experiments still re- 
mained in the neutral zone: plainly it made no difference to man that 
his liver and kidneys were built essentially on the same pattern that 
had been used in humbler creatures at a far earlier stage in evolution. 
But on the other hand the close association of the organs of reproduc- 
tion and excretion became a handicap to man’s increasing playfulness 
in sexuality; and this was offset only in part by the heightened erotic 
responsiveness of woman’s breasts. As for the upright position, with 
the free arm, the mobile dexterous hand, the unobstructed binocular 
vision — ^that did more to release man from his flat, four-footed ani- 



mality than anything else, perhaps, this side of spoken language: but 
all this is so belated it seems almost a postscript. 

Man, with his short span of years, is impatient: ''no sooner said 
than done” is his motto. But time-saving, like economy, is a human 
invention for which there is no counterpart in nature: the mills of the 
Gods, proverbially, grind slowly, and except in man’s reckoning, a 
million years are as a day. For purposes that work so slowly, pushing 
over so many obstacles, disclosing intentions at such a remote end, 
patiently "muddling through” without anything that can be called a 
consistent plan of action, however purposeful each event and however 
remarkably co-ordinated the general result, man lacks the necessary 
parallels in his own life to aid his understanding. This weakness holds 
particularly in our own time, whose pride it is to hasten all natural 
processes. But the builders who designed the cathedrals at Koln and 
Ulm, neither of which was finished till the nineteenth century, might 
have felt a little closer to the ways of nature had they bothered to 
look into them. 

Let us make, then, a necessary correction in the older doctrines of 
finalism. When we accept purpose and plan and goal as essential in 
the barest definition of life, we do not deny the existence of causes 
and events that lie outside this living system and are often, as we say, 
at cross-purposes with it. Nor do we deny, within it, the necessity for 
many experimental trials and rectifications. So far from saying, with 
Walter Lippmann, that a plan that can be changed is not a plan, I 
would say just the contrary: a plan too rigid or too brittle to be changed 
does not belong either to the organic or the human world, for life can- 
not function effectively within such hardened molds. All organic 
change partakes of creation; and our clue to creation comes, not 
through the investigation of mechanical sequences viewed by an ex- 
ternal spectator or operator, but through the observation of purposive 
action in man’s own creative acts. Without reference to these higher 
processes in man, one cannot perhaps make an adequate interpretation 
of what goes on in earlier stages of organic development. 

Since these concepts are still unfamiliar, I must make use of a 
homely illustration. Take the creative act of writing. I do not know, 
at the moment I write this sentence, exactly what my next sentence is 
going to be, though an anticipatory feeling of what will carry the 
thought further has already formed. But I know, even as I now type 
it, that it is the result, not merely of what I have said in the previous 
sentence— and in turn in the hook as so far written — ^but also of what 


I have in mind further to express in order to complete the general 
thesis of the book. This sentence might have taken many alternative 
forms without departing from the plan; and one of those forms has 
now actually appeared; but whatever form I might choose — and at 
the moment I said it tlie words came as a somewhat unexpected revela- 
tion — its character as well as its meaning is determined by its place 
in the structure of the book and the extent to which it participates in 
and furthers the overall purpose of the book. 

Before the book is finished that sentence may be deleted; yet it will, 
by having once served as a link in the chain of argument, have per- 
formed a genuine purpose, even though it disappears: it would still, 
in other words, have been molded at its point of origin by a future 
goal and in turn contribute to the fulfillment of that goal. The meaning 
of the single sentence, in other words, derives from the larger design; 
yet even the author could not describe in advance all the details of that 
larger design, for the design itself will not be coherently organized or 
effectively expressed, until the last page is ready for the printer. In 
other words, it is characteristic of purposive organization that, though 
the future determines the present, the future itself is subject, both in 
detail and even in the overall pattern, to many further modifications. 
Yet even if I abandoned the book in the middle, the words, as so far 
written, would have been determined by the goal I originally set be- 
fore myself. That degree of purpose would exist. 

The acceptance of a pervasive teleology or finalism, uniting the cos- 
mic and the human, now becomes our operational postulate and living 
faith. All life is purposive and goal-seeking; and human life con- 
sciously participates in a more universal purpose and seeks goals 
that lie beyond the mere survival, in a state of animal toi'pidity, of 
the species. Though many of the details of this teleological system are 
substantiated by observation, the purpose of the whole, the grand de- 
sign, cannot be established either by experiment or by observation — 
and neither, for that matter, can it be refuted or discredited by such 
means as long as living organisms survive. 

All one need say is that if purpose exists in the basic structure of 
things, it calls for a far less incredible succession of miracles than a 
world subject wholly to random processes, which has nevertheless 
achieved such abundant manifestations of purpose and design. In the 
larger terms of existence, both purpose and chance lie beyond effec- 
tive demonstration; but it is more sensible to admit the existence of 
purpose, modified by fortuities and necessities, than to suppose that 



chance is uppermost and then be compelled to avert one’s eyes from 
every evidence of purposive transformation. 

At all events, we begin perhaps to see why the sense of a pervasive 
purpose that encompasses all creation enters into every reasonable 
definition of the good. This purpose existed in nature, before man 
identified nature with the larger order of his own being. A purposeless 
life is in fact a contradiction; for as soon as life becomes purposeless 
the very possibility of its continued existence comes to an end: in man, 
that irrationality and futility bring about self-destruction. Cancer is, 
from the standpoint of the organism, prolific but purposeless growth, 
and all purposeless growth must produce death. 

By the same token, a purpose that reaches beyond any immediate 
satisfaction and gives direction to the whole course of life, or that 
even spans the lives of successive generations, is a powerful agent of 
social and personal integration. To prefer the durable to the ephemeral^ 
the consistent to the inconsistent, is the essence of ‘‘character.” That 
was what the Jewish prophets, from Moses onward, meant when they 
sought to interpret God’s intentions to man, and to make man’s daily 
arrangements fit into the larger scheme of probation and salvation 
that was, according to their view, being worked out in history. Though 
they often crudely over-simplified this vision and doctrine, by making 
reward and punishment more swift and sure than they actually are, 
they at least emphasized the fact that the good is no wholly self-con- 
tained entity and no purely human illusion: every good is the vehicle, 
not merely of immediate personal fulfillment — sometimes indeed that 
is withheld — ^but of continued growth and development and renewal. 

The understanding contemplation of the ultimate goal enables it to 
be to some extent manifested and realized in the present moment: if 
in one sense life involves perpetual struggle and self-transcendence, 
there is at the same time a quiet pool of being in which the most dis- 
tant goal is mirrored; so that even if frustrated or cut short in his 
efforts, the person’s ultimate fulfillment is nevertheless partly realiz- 
able in the acts that lead to that goal. No small part of the function 
of art is to bring those moments into the busy marketplace of life. 
What one calls the timelessness of art is its capacity to represent the 
transformation of endless becoming into being. Without allowing for 
this realization of purpose in the active present — ^what Emerson prob- 
ably meant when he said that life was a matter of having good days — 
a doctrine based on purpose alone might, like totalitarian communism, 
subordinate all immediate personal goods to the ultimate distant goal. 



By over-emphasis of a purely compensatory after-life Christianity for 
long made the same error. 

The binding force of an ethical system based on purpose has been 
dramatically confirmed in the history of the Jews: its practical con- 
summation in our own time perhaps merits our special note. Scattered 
to the four corners of the earth, the Jews, during the long period of 
the Dispersion, still retained their faith in a divine promise: in the 
restoration of Jerusalem, in the advent of a Messiah, and finally, in 
the prophecy of Isaiah, of the coincident coming of a day when the 
nations will no longer war against one another, but join together in 
ways of peace. 

All these purposes may well, at many grievous times during the last 
two millenniums, have seemed delusional projections: the reactions of 
desperate souls to unfortunate political and social conditions: reactions 
bearing every mark of a collective neurosis. By holding to these pur- 
poses, the Jews kept together as a people under conditions that would 
have ground any less hopeful nation out of existence: that itself would 
constitute a pragmatic justification of purpose. But these goahseeking 
people have done more than hold together, while tlieir conquerors and 
oppressors, given to ephemeral satisfactions and immediate aims, van- 
ished. Today the Jews have performed the incredible feat of returning 
as a unified political group to their native home in Palestine. Thus a 
collective purpose, working over an almost cosmic stretch of time, has 
brought its own fulfillment. By that fact, every contributory ceremony 
and ritual and prayer, every hardship and sacrifice, has been retro- 
spectively justified. The mere existence of Israel today is a testimonial 
to the dynamics of purposive development. If the Greeks had had such 
a vision of life, they might have left an even deeper impression upon 
modern man. 

So far, then, we have established three large criteria for an ethics 
of human development: Reverence for life in all its manifestations. 
The development of evaluation and selection, of a constant discrim- 
ination between good and bad, as an inherent need of human life. Fi- 
nally, the acknowledgment of the purposive nature of all living proc- 
esses, and the conscious formulation of ideals, goals, and plans as 
being an essential carrying over of natural teleology into the develop- 
ment of man. By entering into purposes that transcend the limits of 
any single life, sometimes of any historic period, man endows his own 
limited needs and values with a meaning that outlives their temporary 
satisfaction or their equally temporary defeat. 




Man’s goods spring directly out of his vital and social needs, even 
before he elaborates the cultural forms and the personal values that 
widen their province in life and ensure their continuity. At their point 
of origin, these needs are on the same level; some may be more im- 
perious than others, but they all work equally for tlie maintenance of 
the organism and keep it in the state of dynamic equilibrium necessary 
for growth and self-fulfillment 

Within the body itself there is a hierarchy of functions, however, 
and this hierarchic order leaves its imprint on many remoter areas of 
life. There are, for instance, supernumeraries, like the appendix and 
tonsils, trusty domestic servants, like the stomach and bowels, willing 
manual workers and clerks, like hands and legs; and their status and 
office are well defined. One may get along famously without one’s ton- 
sils; and reasonably well without an arm or a leg; but if one is de- 
prived of even a square inch of the frontal cortex, the entire organism 
may be thrown completely out of adjustment. There is no question as 
to what is the dominant function in the body, or in what direction the 
organic hierarchy leads. The highest functions are those of the nervous 
system; and they culminate in the over-developed and still only partly 
used organ that is responsible for the effective working of the whole. 
Common American speech recognizes this fact, when responses are 
tardy or reflexes fumble, in the sharp admonition; “Use your head!” 

Ethical conduct affirms this organic hierarchy of functions in the 
body and develops it further, in application to the person and the com- 
munity, by discriminating between higher and lower ends. Unfortu- 
nately, at this point one historic doctrine after another has been tempted 
into a too easy solution based on the simple dualism between body and 
soul. This overlooks the fact that it is within the body itself that the 
qualitative difference between higher and lower is first established. 
Nietzsche sought to make high the equivalent of “high caste”: what- 
ever people of birth and breeding and aristocratic purpose proclaimed 
as fit for their own kind; while for him the low consisted in the values 
to which the poor, the humble, the conquered clung. 

Both distinctions are false, for the natural hierarchic order cuts un- 
der such factitious historic divisions. The human organism functions 
well only when the subordinate organs are in harmony with the higher 
processes, not in a state of mute resentful rebellion. Between the lower 



and higher centers a continuous traffic goes on: the first supplies energy 
and vitality, feeling and emotion, to all that the mind undertakes, thus 
enlisting the active aid of the whole organism; the second makes use 
of its special capacity for abstraction, symbolization, co-ordination, 
and vigilant anticipation to bring the organism into fuller relation with 
other men, with the environment, and ultimately with more universal 

Now, the dominance of the lower functions by the higher ones is 
always fitful and uncertain: the conscious, rational mind, established 
later than the lower functions, is like a wise ruler, resisted by his un- 
ruly subjects, who would prefer to be left alone in their gross cus- 
toms, without having their attention directed to great projects for the 
improvement of the whole community, to which they will have to con- 
tribute their taxes and their work. A drink of gin or a depressing sight 
may impair the finest kind of mental creativity: fatigue, pressure, repe- 
tition, may reverse the natural order and put the subordinate organs 
or the reflexes in a position of control. This explains the humiliating 
fact about illness: that it upsets the natural dominance of the higher 
functions. The diseased organ, the lung or heart or liver, often takes 
possession of the whole personality and overpowers it, putting the mind 
itself at the service of the ailment. Thomas Mann exquisitely revealed 
this transmogrification in The Magic Mountain. 

Judged from tlie standpoint of survival, the most indispensable life- 
need, and therefore in one sense the surest good, is air: if deprived of 
air for as little as three minutes, most men will die. Suppose, however, 
one were granted five hundred years of continuous life on the sole con- 
dition that all one’s natural functions were paralyzed and one were 
kept “alive” in an iron lung, committed to the single function of 
breathing — ^who would not reject life on those terms? Air is indeed 
vital to man ; but not for the sake of moi'e air. When the brains of the 
aged begin to break down, they sometimes maintain a vegetative ex- 
istence, without memory or hope; and with what lingering spark of 
mind remains they will often resent tliis state as life’s final indignity: 
they eat, they breathe, they move, often in perfect health: but in a 
meaningless world. That is neither life nor happiness. 

“Happiness,” as tliat wise old observer of life, John Butler Yeats, 
once put it in a letter (1909), “happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure 
nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are 
growing.” To that observation an ethics of development would add one 
further note; the means for continuous growth are provided, not in 



the physical organism as a whole, but in the higher functions. Up to 
the point that bodily deterioration undermines the higher functions, 
their expansion and renewal are the main conditions for a good life: 
a life of increasing sensitiveness, deeper love, richer meaning. 

The essence of wisdom, then, is to pay sufficient attention to the 
lower functions to ensure their fullest contribution to the whole proc- 
ess of growth; but not to allow them to usurp the place of the higher 
functions or to disrupt the whole. Any special attention one may pay 
to the lower functions — as in fortifying the body by hard exercise — 
must be for the sake of giving more scope to the higher functions. But 
with reason, the ancient Athenians disparaged the professional ath- 
lete, whose personality became an appendage to his muscular skill; 
hence indeed their distrust for all forms of specialization, which give 
to a single function the over-riding place that reason alone, in their 
scheme, should occupy. 

Does one solve the ethical problem, then, simply by arranging the 
goods of life in a vertical order, as Plato did in The Laws, observing 
that ‘Hhe right way is to place the goods of the soul first and highest in 
the scale, always assuring temperance to be the condition of them; 
and to assign the second place to the goods of the body and the third 
place to money and property”? This seems a convenient practical di- 
vision; but it is in fact an imperfect one; for it fails to do justice to 
the need for organic harmony or to suggest any principle for achiev- 
ing it: even more serious, its order is a static one and does not pro- 
vide for those occasions when the lower functions must be in ascend- 
ancy to restore balance. Christian doctrine, for example, followed 
Plato closely in differentiating between higher and lower qualities: so 
far well. But in the Christian’s extravagant pursuit of disembodied 
virtue he often upset the unity of the personality, causing inner divi- 
sion and neurosis: so much so that Ignatius Loyola, that subtle and 
wary psychologist, was always quick to caution novices against ex- 
cessive zeal in mortification, as no less hostile to spiritual perfection 
than over-indulgence. 

The servile functions exist for the sake of the self-governing ones: 
the automatic and habitual for the selective or spontaneous: the re- 
flexes for the sake of the released functions, which lend themselves to 
art and thought: so much is clear. But the higher can no more do with- 
out the lower than the lower can do without the higher, or rather 
somewhat less: for the physical body often survives in old age when 
all the higher processes of thought and emotion have disappeared. If 



the lower self must not dominate the higher, neither must the higher 
seek to extirpate the lower: for at that moment it removes the ener- 
gies needed for its own propulsion. The increasing dominance of the 
higher functions, which is the condition for all truly human develop- 
ment, is not for the sake of suppressing the lower functions, but of 
using them more fully for ends that they themselves cannot encom- 
pass; for choices that, left to themselves, they could not make. 

In short, the meaning of hierarchic organization in both the person 
and in society is to secure conditions favorable to freedom: to release 
the person from automatism and give him an increasing degree of 
self-direction. Freedom for man in large part is an effort to escape the 
age-old stereotypes of his lower functions and to exercise constant 
choice and discrimination : what applies in the personality applies also 
in the community. In no sense does freedom mean the casting off of 
restraints, the destruction of inhibitions, or the denial of duties and 
responsibilities. Man loses his freedom through poverty, ignorance, 
and disease; and again, he may lose his freedom through the over- 
development of a single organ or function, or through over-commit- 
ment to mechanical or social processes not under the control of the 
personality. That is why money and property, up to a certain point, 
are as much a condition for the development of the human personality 
as direct access to the non-material elements in a culture, and to pre- 
tend that their absence does not matter is hypocrisy or dishonesty. 

In view of man’s hierarchic internal organization of needs and func- 
tions, the place of freedom in the moral life becomes plain. Man is 
not born free: at the moment of birth he is the helpless prey of his 
reflexes, and the passive recipient of the conditions imposed on him 
by his family and his culture. He can exercise no initiative: make no 
decisions. His education, up to the point where it meets arrest, is a 
slow induction into the possibilities of freedom: a transfer of restraint 
from the outer world to the inner man, and a progressive increase of 
choice, as intelligence and experience and imagination widen the 
range of his vision and increase the number of alternatives before 
him. Increasing selectivity and increasing self-direction are the re- 
wards of man’s capacity for freedom: and all his organic processes are 
so arranged, as Coghill and Angyal have shown, as to assure the ulti- 
mate dominance of the higher over the lower functions and to make 
the life he thereby develops an infinitely more rewarding one than 
that which other creatures, or men themselves at a lower stage in their 
development, have been able to live. 



Even a purely physiological analysis of man’s behavior, then, es- 
tablishes the fact that there are higher and lower goods; and that the 
higher goods are those leading toward freedom and multiple choices, 
toward esthetic sensitivity and symbolic interpretation, toward the 
domination of the parts by the whole and the subordination of organic 
functions to a guiding purpose: in fine, toward the creation of a mean- 
ingful and valuable world. The slightest impairment of activity in the 
forebrain, either through drugs or overt injury, first destroys the sym- 
bolic functions and the ability to co-ordinate, as Goldstein and von 
Monakov have demonstrated: the world becomes less meaningful and 
less valuable: along with this goes a breakdown of inhibition, that 
capacity upon which all positive choices are based. 

One of the reasons, perhaps, why there has been a widespread 
ethical disintegration in our whole civilization is that we have created 
an interlocking machinery of schools, factories, newspapers, and armies 
that have artificially destroyed the higher centers, have impaired the 
power of choice, have reduced the symbolic functions to an almost 
reflex level, and have removed the capacity to co-ordinate from the 
person to the machine process : the whole system powerfully re-enforced 
by narcotics and other drugs, from alcohol and tobacco to marijuana, 
cocaine, phenobarbital and aspirin. The utopia of the conditioned 

The final degradation in this dethronement of the higher functions 
consists in the systematic confusion of names, which both Nazism and 
Stalinist communism have cunningly employed. By the same token, 
the first step toward freedom will be a new respect for the symbol, a 
purification and clarification of language itself, an abstention from 
unclean slogans and conditioned verbal reflexes. The death of the ad- 
vertising agency and the propaganda bureau will be one of the surest 
signs of the birth of a new society. 


The constant discrimination between good and bad, and the unre- 
mitting pursuit of goodness are vital requirements for human devel- 
opment. He who would deny the importance of these efforts would 
abolish man’s very humanity. To substitute power for goodness is sim- 
ply to turn a single aspect of life into an absolute: an error which 
denies the essential fact about life, that all its functions and goods 
are inter-related and organically conditioned by each other. The obli- 



gation to recognize the good and to pursue good is absolute. But goods 
themselves are relative: each has its time, its place, its function, in 
the economy of the whole. If goods must be chosen and pursued with 
respect to their ultimate capacity to raise the level of human develop- 
ment, they must also be chosen in the right order and the right quantity. 

While qualitative discrimination is essential it is not enough: there 
must be quantitative discrimination at the same time. In addition to 
affixing a plus or minus sign to all experience, one must add a numer- 
ical indicator for ‘^how much?” Now the present age with its scientific 
background and its pervasive money accountancy takes pride in the 
fact that it is quantity-minded: yet both piety and cynicism have, 
from quite different motives, overlooked the radical way in which 
goodness is conditioned by quantity. Both the absolute pacifist, un- 
willing to take any life, and the complete nihilist, contemptuous of all 
life, unite, for example, in their refusal to admit any difference be- 
tween the restrained and directed violence of war and the unlimited 
violence and random extermination of genocide, as practiced in so- 
called obliteration bombing, whether by incendiary bombs or atom 
bombs. But just as the practice of enslaving prisoners was morally 
superior to killing the victim outright, so war itself, even in its in- 
sanely destructive modern forms, is still morally preferable to ran- 
dom extermination and random destruction. War at least limits the 
area of violence and murder to designated, identifiable groups. Geno- 
cide knows no limits of any kind: it accordingly flouts the dictum Kant 
uttered in his Essay on Universal Peace, that one should never em- 
ploy a method in war that would make it impossible to make peace 
with one’s enemy. Here the absence of quantitative judgment has led 
to further debasement; for to kill a million men is not the same as 
to kill a thousand men: it is precisely a thousand times worse. 

The pursuit of the good involves one in constant estimations of 
quantity; and the disciplined control of quantity is therefore one of the 
marks of the maturing person. The vulgar hold that one cannot have 
too much of a good thing; but their own experience, if only they re- 
flected upon it, would show that this is untrue. Whether a thing is 
good or bad often depends in no small measure upon how much of 
it one takes or consumes or does. Over-indulgence in the appetite for 
food or drink or sexual intercourse is normally, in due time, self- 
correcting: indigestion, headaches, lethargy, impotence curb the over- 
driven impulse and restore the organic balance. There are, however, 
as Herbert Spender observed long ago, people who indulge themselves 



unduly in scientific pursuits; people who, like Dar^vin, on his own pa- 
thetic confession, let their emotional responses dry up, in their very 
concentration upon one of their higher functions alone. So even 
the higher goods, if quantitatively overdone, can turn into their oppo- 
site: a fact Plato recognized when he said that “temperance must be 
a condition of them.” The virtuous must occasionally recall The Preach- 
er’s sanative injection: “Be not virtuous overmuch: why shouldst thou 
destroy thyself?” 

Now both Confucius and Aristotle were aware of the need for quan- 
titative discrimination as one of the chief components of an active 
mode of ethics: both the Greeks and the Chinese observed the doctrine 
of the Golden Mean: they were wary of extremes, even in matters that 
were excellent and estimable in themselves. But to be golden the mean 
must be no mere mathematical mid-point: the useful mean takes into 
account the time, the place, the circumstance, the organic capacity. 
By causing men to follow its general counsel of moderation, this doc- 
trine helps to rectify in some degree even qualitative misjudgments ; 
for evil, if not manifested in inordinate amounts, can be assimilated 
and overcome. 

The doctrine of the mean, however, is subject to one correction: it 
must in practice be limited by its own canon. There is a golden mean 
even in applying the golden mean; for to reduce every action and 
every impulse to a nicely regulated not-too-little-not-too-much is to 
overlook those occasions when, in the interest of an eventual equi- 
librium, one must abandon this too-even form of control. As a rule, 
eight hours of work is more than enough for a day, and in some pro- 
fessions, like writing, possibly twice too much. But in an emergency 
one must work around the clock, and if one held back in the interests 
of moderation one would forfeit the very life one seeks to conserve. 
There are often brief periods in life — military combat or creative 
work in art or science — ^when to live a balanced and harmonious exist- 
ence is impossible: at those moments, moderation itself becomes the 
dangerous extreme. In so far as ethics provides a sound guide to liv- 
ing, it must have life’s own attributes: its pliability, its adaptiveness, 
its sensitiveness to the occasion. “Wisdom,” old Theognis said, “is 
supple: folly keeps a groove.” 

Now modern civilization, during the last three centuries, has given 
itself over to quantitative production, and has thrown off the natural 
limits that once existed on the food supply, the birth-rate, the amount 
of power a single individual could exercise or detonate. As a result. 



the control of quantity has become one of the dominant moral prob- 
lems of our age: a problem all the more difficult to solve because we 
have treated our permissive ability to remove quantitative limits as a 
command. At every stage of production we enlarge, we expand, we 
multiply, we accelerate: but we lack both the will and the means to di- 
rect the instruments we have created in the interests of life; and when 
they threaten life, to contract them and to bring them to a halt. 

Precisely because we are now capable of inundating the planet with 
more human bodies than we can nourish, with more printed matter 
than we can assimilate, with more knowledge than we can apply in- 
telligently, our whole culture is in the position of the Sorcerer’s Ap- 
prentice: we do not know how to decrease or to turn off the power we 
once fatally invoked, and can now only increase. Until we master that 
lesson, all life is in danger. 

In short: qualitative discrimination and selection and quantita- 
tive control are both essential elements in an ethics of development. 
Where their practice is not deeply ingrained in custom and habit and 
conscious self-direction, a disordered life will result. Who in our time 
has not witnessed and participated in this disorder? — often with a 
false feeling of emancipation and pride, coming directly from the fact 
that we had overthrown old rules and norms on the supposition that 
they had no place in a universe interpreted by the sciences. And one 
does not have to seek far to detect such sinners: one need only hon- 
estly examine one’s own life. Once the constant need for discrimina- 
tion and self-direction is admitted, as an unfailing condition for a 
truly human life, every day becomes a day of reckoning. 



“Is it not evident,” wrote the painter, Eugene Delacroix, a century 
ago, “that progress, toward good or toward evil, has brought society 
to the edge of an abyss into which it may very well fall, to make way 
for a state of complete barbarism?” 

Actually, our age now hovers on the verge of that abyss: part of 
our society has already plunged into it; and the condition of man 
therefore calls for radical improvement. Unless that improvement 
touches every part of our culture, reversing the movement of many 
dominant forces, transforming our institutions, above all, producing 
an inner change in men and women that will radiate in every direc- 
tion, a more complete disintegration may come about. Now that certain 
life-preservative taboos have generally broken down our present lead- 
ers would be capable, in a conflict between the nations, of turning the 
whole planet into a cindery radioactive waste, or into one vast plague- 
infested lazaretto, under the wholly insane conviction that a “victory” 
bought at this price would be worth the victor’s having. Scores of 
bombed cities and millions of displaced persons, starved, bitter, hope- 
less, are prophetic witnesses to the possiblity of our creating a univer- 
sal wasteland. 

Bu| the invisible breakdown in our civilization is more insidious, 
and possibly even more destructive: the erosion of values, the dissipa- 
tion of humane purposes, the denials of any distinction between good 
or bad, right or wrong, the reversion to sub-human levels of conduct 
under the pretext that man’s progressive emergence from his instinc- 
tual state has no significance. In a society whose values are still opera- 
tive, the bad man knows that he defies society and his own better na- 
ture when he robs or kills or rapes: sometimes he even courts punish- 
ment after the act, because part of his self still accepts the standard 
his conduct has defied. In a nihilistic order there is a complete un- 



consciousness of guilt: who can indeed admit responsibility for evil 
acts, if he does not admit the existence of evil? 

The social breakdown of our time has shown itself in at least three 
ways: philosophically, ethically, and politically. Philosophically, this 
breakdown has disclosed itself in the cult of general nihilism, a cull 
which rejects the reality of those fundamental discriminations between 
good and bad, between higher and lower, that are the very bases of 
human conduct. At first defacing only values, nihilism must, to re- 
main theoretically consistent, also deny meanings, since meaning 
emerges from human existence by the same process that creates and 
confirms values: by providing consistent clues to life-furthering proc- 
* esses and actions and states. The cult of Da-da, which took form in the 
twenties in esoteric intellectual circles, was the perfect symbol of this 
philosophy: it treated all attempts at significant expression as pompous 
and irrelevant. The final achievement of this nihilism, if it did not 
halt itself on its way to extinction by attributing to power the sole 
meaning of life, would be a stuttering helpless imbecility. Instead of 
going that far, it debases every concept it touches: witness Nazi an- 
thropology, Aryan physics, Stalinist science. The ultimate effect of 
believing that values have no meaning is to proclaim that meanings 
have no value. At that point the truth and the will-to-believe become 
indistinguishable: even the capacity to lie effectively is lost. 

Politically, our moral breakdown has taken precisely the turn pre- 
dicted by Henry Adams fifty years ago, and by Oswald Spengler, with 
even more brutal realism, after the First World War. This state has 
brought with it the general debasement of justice, the disregard of 
law, the attempt to concentrate power in a ruthless minority which, 
under whatever convenient ideological mask, sometimes fascism, 
sometimes communism, sometimes capitalism or nationalism, seeks 
only to perpetuate the lethal conditions of its own existence. The notion 
that justice is but a convenient disguise for naked power was formu- 
lated by Thrasymachus in Plato’s Republic, echoing a popular thesis 
•at the beginning of another period of violent social disintegration; and 
that same notion has now spread from active exponents, like Lenin 
and Hitler, to many lesser practitioners in our society. 

Now, if those who govern are not bound by law, if they are not 
under continuous moral judgment, based on historic precedents and 
common human standards that transcend any particular social order 
or caste, then physical force will entirely displace moral authority, 
instead of merely supplementing it when the latter is too weak to pre- 



vail. As a consequence terrorism, torture, arbitrary compulsion, have 
already been elevated in many states into normal methods of political 
government, and every state tends to become a police state: witness 
the ominous growth and ubiquitous pressure of the Federal Bureau of 
Investigation in the United States: an agency whose operations are 
immune to public scrutiny and may presently, like those of its totali- 
tarian counterparts, be beyond control. 

The cult of nihilism thus tends to issue, by swift steps rather than 
slow, into a cult of violence and methodical terror, expressing a total 
contempt for life. And we should be deceived if we clung to the be- 
lief that these results have appeared only in totalitarian countries. In 
an active or latent state, nihilism is at work throughout our civilization. 

This brings us to another set of symptoms that indicate the gen- 
eral breakdown in Western civilization. In many areas, we are now 
faced with the dissolution of long-established habits of communica- 
tion, communion, and co-operation: the narrowing of intercourse to 
people of the same isolated nation, race, religion, or class: even the 
progressive disappearance of genuinely international congresses and 
meetings, at the very moment we create a vehicle, in the UNESCO, to 
produce the maximum amount of common effort among educational 
and scientific groups. Not merely has there been a wiping out of pre- 
viously established collaborations: positive barriers have now been 
raised, of an even more impenetrable character: barriers which oper- 
ate against the free interchange of opinions, the free rivalry of op- 
posing beliefs, the free flow of ideas, to say nothing of more com- 
monplace traffic that also acts as a solvent of prejudice and provin- 

During the century before 1914 our planet had become, to a de- 
gree never achieved before, a single unit: indeed a worldwide com- 
munity, beyond the limit of all previous empires and civilizations. An 
invisible network of equitable law and widely accepted custom cov- 
ered the planet: the scholar, the financier, the actor, the harvest hand, 
the hotel waiter, the tourist, traveled in peace and security throughout 
the planet, without any other credential than the fact that they were 
human beings. Violence had become so petty, so sporadic, so unthink- 
able, that the hero of H, G. Wells’s novel, The New Machiavelli, 
writing in exile, boasts that no despotic ruler could keep him from 
freely expressing his ideas. That illusion did not survive the First 
World War. 



Now, in all organisms, upbuilding processes and breaking-down 
processes are constantly taking place. What is true of life in general, 
is likewise true of man’s communal and individual life. There has 
never been a period, probably, when certain symptoms of moral 
weakness could not be detected: for even a stable, fully integrated 
society may, by its very stability, fail to meet the problems and pres- 
sures brought about by the need for further development, the most 
constant of all human needs. Out of its very rigidity such a society 
may contribute to moral relapses. Healthy organisms, moreover, may 
often show local impairments and deteriorations; yet, as in a body 
attacked by a fatal disease, the larger number of organs may, till the 
end, function vigorously and partly overcome the failure of the weak 
organ. Even today, possibly three-quarters of our society is still organ- 
ically healthy. 

Unfortunately the presence of this large amount of healthy social 
tissue is perhaps unduly reassuring: while the buildings show unbroken 
windows, while the trains run punctually, while the markets are still 
heaped with food, it is hard to realize that the forces of disintegration 
may already be getting the upper hand. But the fact is that the most 
disturbing symptom of disintegration is an inner one. Whai keeps 
men from recognizing the danger of their present state is not merely 
the old stereotypes of progress, but a more sinister belief, implicit if 
not avowed: Modern man can do no wrong. Unable to discriminate 
between good and evil, incapable of taking moral responsibility, un- 
willing to accept blame, confusing goodness with power and evil with 
impotence, turning a lurking sense of guilt over his sins into the only 
sin he will acknowledge — doing all this, modern man has undermined 
all his solid foundations. While the physical superstructure may still 
look sound, the underpinnings of value and meaning have been eaten 

The healthy organs of modern society are happily still of service 
and may eventually help save us: fortunately there are still many 
sound institutions and virtuous people even in countries like Russia 
and Germany and Japan whose physical existence has been most se- 
verely impaired. But if we are to re-establish the foundations of our 
humanity, we must first re-acquire those essential capacities of feeling 
and discrimination that will direct men toward the right and the good 
and the spiritually profitable: in short, toward life. The conviction 
that “modem man can do no wrong” is the ethical source of his bru- 
talities, his destructions, his self-contempt, his ultimate suicide. 




The conditions for re-establishing ethical values in our civilization 
are those under which conscious moral direction originally came into 
existence. As respects qualities, the first essential change in attitude 
is an increase in sensitiveness and fellow-feeling: the precise opposite 
of Nietzsche’s inverted morality of the superman. Not Be hard! but 
Be tender and sensitive. In the most concrete and literal sense, the 
moral life needs mothering. To be in a condition to do well with one’s 
fellows or to pursue one’s own self-development, one must be touched 
to the depths by the impression our conduct makes on others: to feel 
sorrow when they are in grief, disappointment when they are frus- 
trated, joy when they are uplifted: even to sympathize with their hos- 
tility and aggression, to the extent of being able to recognize how far 
one’s own conduct shows similar traits and is in fact partly responsible 
for producing it. These are the first lessons of parenthood: without 
such love, the next step, toward self-discipline and responsibility, the 
acceptance of the super-ego, will not be made. 

By contrast, the most deadly sin is that of cutting oneself off from 
other men. Brutality, unfeelingness, insensitiveness, isolationism, the 
paranoid rejection of fellowship, are the enemies of the moral life: 
hardness of heart, as every moralist has proclaimed, is another name 
for moral deadness. Common experience confirms this judgment: the 
worst crimes are those committed by people who, through ideological 
or chemical means, have blunted their natural responses. The very 
name assassin reminds one of those professional murderers who pre- 
pared for their crime by eating hashish, just as their modern counter- 
parts in gangsterdom go to their violent rendezvous after taking co- 
caine or heroin. These extreme examples prove the conditions under 
which vice and crime normally flourish. Even hardened criminals may 
still do violence to their nature when they kill in cold blood. Only 
those who have spent time in a totalitarian extermination camp, or its 
equivalent — see Dostoyevsky’s account of Jiis Siberian imprisonment 
— ^know how low human conduct can sink through sheer hardness of 

But we must be equally on guard against insensitiveness that is pro- 
moted, not by drugs or by the animal effort to survive, but by ideo- 
logical means. The fanatic Marxist who characterizes members of the 
bourgeoisie as vermin, like the Nazi who so characterized the Jews 



and the Poles, finds it easy to take the next step: to exterminate his 
victims like vermin. Even without warped ideological support, this 
hardness may be promoted by the psychological distance between cul- 
tures — ^the curse of imperialism — or even by the physical distance 
which permits aviators to drop bombs on innocent men and women, 
with no sense of any result except the pattern of the explosion: this is 
also to exterminate one’s victims like vermin. The willingness to par- 
ticipate in cruelty and murder, when presented in mystery novels and 
radio programs and “^comics” is not, it goes without saying, the only 
source of contemporary crime: but who can doubt that the mental ha- 
bituation to violence so provided makes it easier to engage in both in- 
dividual and collective crimes, or to turn our faces away, indifferently, 
when they are committed. 

In the phase of disintegration, each civilization seems to find a spe- 
cial way of keeping to its downward course by reversing the values of 
life: unable to identify and promote the good, it embraces a variety 
of evils and calls them good. What the Roman gladiatorial spectacles 
did for the Romans, our age has achieved through motor races and 
plane exhibitions, designed to produce maimings and deaths, by wres- 
tling matches and boxing bouts in which brutality is far more visible 
than sportsman-like skill, in concentration on more lethal weapons 
of war, instead of on measures that would produce co-operation and 
peace. But the first step toward moral renewal should be plain; we 
must overcome the present cult of callousness; and we must abandon 
the morality of the “dead pan,” which characterizes our whole style 
of life, cutting off every warmer manifestation of human feeling and 
turning unemotionality and impassiveness into the only accepted val- 
ues. Our fear of emotions, our habit of treating normal emotions as 
deplorably sentimental and strong emotions as simply hysterical or 
funny, betrays fundamentally our fear of life. 

What our civilization needs today, as a condition for increasing hu- 
man maturity and for inner renewal, is the cultivation of an exquisite 
sensitivity and an incomparable tenderness. . . . Unnameable horrors 
have paraded before us and worse evils threaten because we have been 
unable to wipe the blank stare of indifference from our stony tearless 
faces. We are too numb even to hate what is hateful. Lacking the ca- 
pacity to feel, when feeling ig an imperative condition for living on a 
human plane, we also lack tiie capacity for action. Those who most 
prided themselves on their absence of righteous anger and anxiety, 
when the Nazis threatened to subdue the world to their systematic 



barbarism, were precisely those who lacked even an animal sense of 
danger: their coolness and impassiveness betrayed their failure to rec- 
ognize life’s demands. 

No nation perhaps is collectively hardened down to the level of its 
criminal or psychopathic elements. Even the German people, though 
steeped in a brutal authoritarian tradition, sought to hide from them- 
selves the hideous practices of the extermination camps. But a tend- 
ency toward the psychopathic, if one may judge by the growing occur- 
rence of vicious crimes in otherwise normal children and adolescents, 
is far more serious today than people ordinarily estimate. My own ex- 
perience as a teacher in getting student reactions to situations that in- 
volved the acceptance or the moral reprobation of senseless criminal 
violence, makes me believe that perhaps as much as a third of our 
student population of college grade may, for all practical purposes, 
be considered moral imbeciles, or at least moral illiterates. So poorly 
have the moral values that still remain partly operative been trans- 
mitted to these students that they are potential, if not active, delin- 
quents. Though they have been screened by intelligence tests and per- 
sonality tests before entering college, they have not yet acquired the 
moral values and purposes that would enable them to function as full- 
grown human beings. Masked by more adult habits that they share 
with the rest of the community, their values remain infantile, if not 
brutally criminal. 

The qualities of vigilance and wakefulness were rightly emphasized 
by the Christian Fathers as essential to moral life: everything that 
induces anesthesia or lulls one to sleep is an obstacle to moral devel- 
opment. But to fortify sensitiveness still another quality is needed: 
sobriety. Not to be unduly elated at success, not to be unduly depressed 
by defeat, to preserve equanimity in the face of danger, and modera- 
tion and reserve in embracing wealth and good fortune: these are the 
characteristics of sobriety. They are symbolized for us by the figure 
of Socrates, he who could arise from the longest drinking bout with 
a steady head: he whose conduct at Potidaea, as described in The 
Symposium, was as untroubled as his behavior on the last day before 
his death. A sufficient increase in sensitiveness to re-establish moral 
values, without a proportionate strengthening of sobriety, might result 
in pain and anxiety that would nullify the capacity for effective 

With sobriety go two other qualities needed for moral renewal. One 
of them is the cultivation of far-sightedness: the common-sense re- 



quirement for an effective attachment to ultimate ends and goals. Now 
ethical conduct often has its rewards and fulfillments in the present: 
it is an academic superstition to hold that it is always better to defer 
immediate satisfactions in favor of remote ones — as if the remote did 
not at some point become immediate. But far-sightedness is necessary 
in order to do justice to immediate goods in their proper order and to 
anticipate their probable consequences: the moral bankruptcy of 
Neville Chamberlain and the moral capacity of Winston Churchill, 
with respect to the immediate issues of war and peace in 1939 , de- 
rived largely from the short-sightedness of the first and the far-sighted- 
ness of the second. The other necessary quality is timeliness. The good 
consists not only in the right quality in the right quantity in the right 
order; it must also be brought into action at the right time and place. 
Misplaced or inopportune virtues are often as much an obstacle to 
human development as positive evil would be. 

But the overwhelming need to renew moral values in our civiliza- 
tion, and to establish, by nurture and education, the habits that grow 
out of them, should not lead us into the error of moralism. Conduct 
may be, as Matthew Arnold used to say, three-fourths of life; but the 
aim of ethics is not simply to promote good conduct: its essential aim 
is to further life; and this means something more than the capacity 
for ethical evaluations and acts. Here lies the mistake of all pharisee- 
ism and to some extent one of the recurrent errors of religion itself. 
The vigilant application of ethical norms is essential in every living 
function; but one misconceives this duty if one holds that goodness 
displaces every other kind of value: that for the sake of ‘‘being good’^ 
one may and should renounce love and marriage, art and science, 
sport and play. Such desert island virtue is as meaningless as it is 

The whole process of moral evaluation and choice and directed de- 
velopment is justified in the long run only by the sort of life it facili- 
tates and the sort of personality it produces: but in that process some- 
thing more than mere goodness is achieved. To live only to be good is 
to become goody-good. People whose life is confined to obeying the 
prescribed rules for conduct tend to belittle the very purposes for 
which ethics exists: that is, a life both more abundant and more sig- 
nificant. Such people, smug, placid, untormented by strong impulses, 
over-impressed by their own righteousness, too often lack any capac- 
ity to grow: thus, in their blameless existence, they may negate the 
very conditions that give meaning to moral evaluations and choices. 



For this reason, an adequate ethics must not only enable one to em- 
brace in due measure the concrete goods that life offers, instead of 
drawing back from them as wanton distractions: it must also find a 
place for the dynamic role of evil: since the goods of life, by a curious 
process of transmutation, often come forth from conditions that would 
seem to oppose them. 

Such an ethic will accept denial and sacrifice in order to make pos- 
sible the fullness of giving: that is why it usually comes into existence 
first, not among the prosperous and the satisfied, not in an “economy 
of abundance,” but under conditions when men face death willingly 
together. This simple fact was well put by an American soldier in com- 
bat during the Second World War: “It’s hard,” he wrote, “for men 
who live only because they co-operate, to explain things to people who 
live only as semi-isolated individuals. A front-line soldier will almost 
always give you half of his last dollar or one of his last two cigarettes. 
An American civilian finds it hard to lend you half of his surplus.” 
These men, facing death daily, knew that “you can’t take it with 
you.” Only the understanding acceptance of man’s tragic destiny will 
make possible that wider giving and taking of love which will lead 
to man’s further development. The knowledge of this fact was the 
essential strength of traditional Christianity: it is part of the ultimate 
wisdom of an ethics of development and fulfillment. 


In most historic definitions of the good there is a tendency to af- 
firm as a conclusion the very question one has asked. The old Stoic 
dictum, “Nothing but goodness is good,” is only a caricature of every 
other definition: not excluding, of course, that which I have attempted 
to give. For the good, as Thomas Aquinas observed and as Aristotle 
taught before. him, is in one sense the very property of life itself: “The 
good is being as an object of appetite.” Life itself is its own blessing 
and when man appeared matter at last laughed. Taking life as the 
very core of goodness, the Greeks before Socrates naturally rated 
health as the supreme good of life, and after health, beauty. But this 
youthful over-emphasis on bodily delight unfortunately is too inno- 
cent to provide for all of life’s occasions. Are no goods left when 
youth has disappeared and energy dwindled? 

When one follows the full trajectory of life one must face the fact 
that human beings, even before life reaches the downward curve, often 



face painful crises and suffer penalties: we may encounter crippling 
accidents and fatal diseases, as well as consummations, gains, and 
fulfillments. An optimistic ethics, which makes health and prosperity 
the central, or even the supreme goods, becomes childishly bewildered 
and helpless when overtaken by bodily disaster. By contrast, a pessi- 
mistic ethics, deliberately embracing the bad in order to fend off 
something worse, partly fortifies the spirit, as Mithridates did his 
body, by taking a daily dose of poison. But by its own logic such an 
ethic is forced to assert that love is a snare, that joys are worthless 
because they vanish, and that prosperity is only a more subtle kind 
of misfortune. 

Now, no matter how bad life may prove, we need an ethics that 
will do justice to its benign moments; and no matter how good it may 
become, we must still reckon with life’s final undoing. With wise 
teaching and provident laws and improved technics we may abolish 
poverty, crime, and disease, or reduce them to minimal amounts, as 
Robert Owen once preached: that hope is a wholly legitimate one. But 
in some form, deviously if not directly, the forces of evil will still 
beset life, if only because there is a widening discrepancy, as man ad- 
vances upward in the scale of being, between his own purposes and 
the lower order of nature. 

These extraneous forces will threaten man’s plans sometimes with 
the appearance of concentrated malice, such as enraged the soul of 
Captain Ahab, sometimes with the drooling inconsequence of an idiot 
giant whose fumbling hands may strangle a baby as easily as a mouse. 
An earthquake, a bolt of lightning, a raging fire, a falling meteor, a 
plague, a plane wreck, though they be events in an orderly and pur- 
poseful world, nevertheless cut across the path of some living crea- 
ture’s growth and development. From the standpoint of life, such 
happenings are senseless and evil: yet this not-goodness that over- 
powers goodness is closely bound up, at every stage, with man’s exist- 
ence. One can recognize all these facts without, like the fashionable 
existentialists, making a religion of that recognition. Evil, by its con- 
stant threat, introduces an element of tragic struggle into a world that 
would otherwise be in a state of effortless enjoyment, like some smiling 
Polynesian island; but by the very fact that it rouses life to fuller 
effort, it may be essential to human growth and renewal. 

Are evil and good polar opposites, then, so intimately related that 
one could not exist without the other? Or are they, as Augustine 
thought, substance and shadow, so that evil is only the absence and 



dearth of the good; or are they each positive but not necessarily inter- 
dependent aspects of life? Or finally, is there something ambiguous in 
their character, which neither the doctrine of absolutism nor the doc- 
trine of relativism sufficiently acknowledges? I put off this question for 
later discussion in order to deal with still another doctrine widely 
held today, that evil is merely a projection of fears and anxieties, and 
that, by proper psychological therapy, it may be removed from the 
mind and will therefore have no objective existence. This view was 
put forward, with no little acumen, by Mary Baker Eddy, who with 
psychosomatic insight even applied her philosophy to such bodily evils 
as disease. Since then it has been taken over, on a materialistic rather 
than a transcendental basis, by many psychiatrists, who would be some- 
what embarrassed by this underlying association with Christian Science. 

There is no doubt whatever that evils may have a subjective or 
psychal origin: but this fact in no wise lessens their reality; nor does 
it in the least prove that extirpation of a sense of guilt solves the 
problem of evil in any case except a neurosis. Evils that are of human 
origin require constant rectification; and the doctrine that “modern 
man can do no wrong,” which so easily absolves him of all sense of 
self-condemnation, has the effect of increasing the social burden of 
evil by lifting responsibility from the shoulders of the evildoer. By 
that fact, it removes the impulse to repentance and self-correction, both 
essential for moral development. 

Recently, an intelligent and earnest group of people in Texas re- 
solved to come to grips with the cause of the domestic and interna- 
tional tensions that are visible today: they formed a co-operative 
group and enlisted aid from the outside, in their search for a method 
which would banish the fear and anxiety which, following current 
psychological fashion, they took to be the only source of positive evil. 

The general premises of the Behavior Research Project can be 
summed up, in their own words, as follows: “If we are to reduce 
human fears in order to eliminate evil, we can no longer use the 
devices of blame and reprisal in our social action in community life. 
Blaming the other fellow (or ourselves) is further punishing Ae al- 
ready insecure personality. This creates greater fear and generates 
more ^eviT counteractions. . - . If the problem of evil is the problem 
of fear, we must find the causes of fears, ease them, and thus triumph 
over evil.” These premises are highly characteristic of the general 
attitude toward evil in our civilization: one which reduces life to a 
sequence of external causes and effects, and has no place for human 



reason and purpose; for, on these popular terms, reasons are merely 
rationalizations that cover brute impulses, and in a non-purposeful 
world, the means generate their own ends: "'the going is the goal” 
The issues raised by this group were so general, that I will illustrate 
my point further by giving with slight amplifications my own comments 
on their inability to overcome their own inertia. 

"The dilemma in which you find yourselves reveals, from my stand- 
point, what was wrong in your original approach and what, I fear, will 
vitiate your further work, unless you can bring yourselves to re- 
examine your original assumptions. 

"The unexamined premise is, as you must know, the chief source of 
radical errors. Your unexamined premise is the belief, which seems 
to you axiomatic and unquestionable, that evil has only one source, 
fear, and therefore the simple, indeed the only way, to eliminate evil 
is to reduce fear. This for you, following many latter-day psychiatrists, 
means banishing any sense of guilt; and to do this effectively you 
must nullify the tendency to blame other people or even to blame 

"T question this whole set of assumptions, including your notion that 
any evil that does not derive from fear is "mystical,’ that is, unreal or 
without objective foundation. You have closed your eyes to a large 
body of evidence when you define fear and evil in such narrow terms: 
you forget that both Greek and Christian culture, with a far longer 
experience of life than modern psychiatry, have attributed the chief 
source of sin, not to fear but to pride and self-love, which are only 
exaggerations of the constructive virtues of dignity and self-respect. 

"Now even fear has a proper function in the organism, if it is fear 
of a real danger, not of an imaginary one; and similarly, blame has 
an effective part in the human economy, if he who is blamed has in 
fact committed a wrong action that greater conscientiousness or wake- 
fulness might have avoided. In the extreme case you will of course ac- 
knowledge this: you will admit that no amount of love and fellow- 
feeling and psychological understanding should lead one to withhold 
reproach from, say, a locomotive engineer who has fallen asleep on 
the job and caused a wreck. Because all of us wish social approval 
in some degree, blame becomes a means of re-enforcing the super-ego, 
when it might flag in its supervision; or when, to protect himself from 
undue pain, a person might seek to anesthetize his conscience. ' 

"An honest ethics, it seems to me, cannot attempt to lift the burden 
of guilt from one who has sinned or committed a crime. What it will 



seek to do, rather, is to appraise the evil that has been done, sensi- 
tively and understandingly ; it will discourage excessive neurotic re- 
actions to the normal errors, and be lenient or merciful to the extent 
that others have been implicated or must bear some of the burden of 
the guilt. Thus if the engineer fell asleep because he had been over- 
worked by his superiors, the latter would share a large portion of the 
responsibility. But avoid fixing blame altogether? No. The truth is 
that people in our culture have a morbid tendency to avoid blame, 
because they do not wish to take the trouble to change their conduct 
in any way: blame-avoidance and blame-transference are therefore 
endemic amongst us. These are substitutes for repentance and renewal. 

“In fine, the way to neutralize evil tendencies is not to deny the ob- 
jective existence of evil or to avoid hating what is hateful and blaming 
what is blameworthy, but to accept the fact that w^e have in our own 
conduct the very tendencies we dislike and see so plainly in those who 
oppose us; and without abating our legitimate responsibilities to cor- 
rect acts in others that need correction, to call upon our fellows in 
turn to help correct them in us. An ethics which seeks to promote 
good without recognizing any evil but that derived from fear, and 
which offers rewards without daring to inflict penalties, will prove a 
much more formidable obstacle to human co-operation than the sys- 
tems it seeks to replace. 

“Let us grant that some fo^ms of evil must be treated as a remedi- 
able disease, as Samuel Butler first satirically suggested in Erewhon. 
But if all evils were of a purely neurotic origin, the psychotic’s gifts 
for murder or torture would be indistinguishable from acts of love 
since they leave him with no sense of guilt or remorse. That is the 
reductio ad absurdum of your attempt to reduce evil to fear and to 
banish all blame and guilt: ‘goodness,’ on those terms, would merely 
be a name covering large areas of unacknowledged evil.” 


In practice, evil offers a dramatic contrast to good and heightens its 
quality, as vinegar or salt bring out the taste of food: the fact that 
life turns out to be a dramatic struggle, rather than a pageant, is due 
precisely to this constant clash of impulses and forces, within and 
without. But let us not repeat the common mistake of an exclusively 
dialectical analysis of this struggle: the value of the good is not posi- 
tively increased by its negation. Food would be nourishing even if 



starvation never threatened one, and friendship would be rewarding 
even if enemies did not exist. Theoretically, then, one may easily con- 
ceive a world in which there would be only a choice of lesser or 
greater goods. 

The dream of such a world of innocence and plenty, health and joy, 
has haunted man from the beginnings of his consciousness of pain and 
evil; and one finds it expressed in all the great literatures: in Hesiod’s 
picture of the Golden Age, in Chuang-Chou’s description of a similar 
state, and of course in the Biblical account of the Garden of Eden. 
Even now, this is the world that our more naive contemporaries be- 
lieve we are on the point of establishing through the advances of med- 
ical science, mass production, and an ‘"economy of abundance.” A 
world in which every disease will be cured by magic drugs, every 
pain effaced by anesthetics, a world where no inordinate desire will 
exist that the industrial mechanism cannot gratify, since by sedulous 
training human beings will be conditioned to express no desires that 
cannot so be met. 

So man might mature as the trees grow: self-contained, filling 
out his shape, never experiencing disharmonies, never encountering 
crises, wholly at one with himself and with his environment. William 
Morris, in News from Nowhere, conceived such a two-dimensional wall- 
paper world, without strong highlights and without depths; but he 
was honest enough to admit that the possibility of murder would re- 
main. Indeed, in a letter written in 1874, his insight into the nature 
of evil in the human economy went even farther: “Years ago,” he 
wrote, “men’s minds were full of art and the dignified shows of life, 
and they had but little time for justice and peace; and the vengeance 
on them was not increase of the violence they did not heed, but de- 
struction of the art they heeded. So perhaps the gods are preparing 
troubles and terrors for the world (or our small comer of it) again, 
that it may once again become beautiful and dramatic withal.” 

Even were the equable self-fulfillment of a Golden Age actually 
achieved, it would in its very perfection bring about a new kind of 
evil: it would arrest life and stultify it; for it would no longer pro- 
duce the kind of disruption and conflict out of which higher forms of 
life become possible. The fact is that temporary chaos, if it does not 
harden into a pattern of disorder, may be more helpful to man’s devel- 
opment than a regularity too easily accepted, a happiness and equilib- 
rium too effortlessly achieved: it is not in the hothouse, under “ideal” 
conditions, that one grows life’s most perfect fruit. If life is to escape 



the cycle of repetition and mere survival on a dull animal level, some 
measure of disintegration, as Lloyd Morgan pointed out, is essential 
to its higher emergence. The seed must be buried, the husk of the seed 
must rot, the body must die to its old habits and constraints, if a higher 
order of growth is to come forth. 

In some sense pain and organic disharmony and psychological con- 
flict, so far from being wholly deplorable accidents, are among the 
requisites for development: for growth is a state of unbalance on 
the way to a higher equilibrium. In this sense, crises are normal events 
in growth. Childbirth, teething, the first coitus, not merely painfully 
punctuate the successive phases of bodily maturity but have their 
parallels in the spirit. Graham Wallas collected a long list of biogra- 
phies of exceptionally gifted people, whose opportunity for a more 
intense and fruitful development was furtliered by illnesses or dis- 
abling accidents. Many of the experiences of life which one would 
avoid as evil, or at very least as damnably unpleasant, if one had the 
possibility of rejecting them, often turn out to be conditions for ade- 
quate growth. That is why those who have been able to assimilate 
their experiences in war usually have a far higher degree of maturity 
than those who never faced extreme hardship and terrifying danger. 
If one had life completely on one’s own terms and lived it solely ac- 
cording to the pleasure principle, as people so often dream, it would 
probably turn out to be as vapid and empty as the historic lives of the 
ruling classes: lives so flavorless that the aristocracy, in their boredom, 
must provide themselves danger and difficulty in the form of polo or 
mountain climbing or duels of honor in order not to lose their appetites 

This does not mean, however, that good and evil are everywhere 
quantitatively equal; or that they .are the right and the wrong sides of 
the same coin, inseparable by nature. And it does not necessarily lead 
to the conclusion, to which Dr Reinhold Niebuhr comes in his Interpre- 
tation of Christian Ethics, that the possibilities of evil inevitably grow 
with the possibilities of good, so that “human history is therefore not 
so much a chronicle of the progressive victory of good over evil, of 
cosmos over chaos, as the story of an ever-increasing cosmos, creating 
ever-increasing possibilities of chaos.” These are, no doubt, theoretic 
possibilities, and sometimes they have had historic existence: indeed, 
they would fit very closely in a “diagnosis of our own time.” But there 
is no ground for thinking that such possibilities are constant necessi- 
ties. On the contrary, viewing life as a whole, one may say that within 



its realm order has been on the increase and the realm of the good has 
widened. The complex symphonic order that life seeks is of a more 
unstable kind than the order of the physical universe; and precisely 
because it is so complex and so delicately balanced and timed, it car- 
ries with it the constant possibility of retrogression and complete dis- 
ruption. So far Niebuhr is right. 

But many communities that have freed themselves from leprosy and 
typhus have not merely decreased the quantity of evil from that par- 
ticular source: they have at the same time lowered the general death 
rate. If the processes of improvement were as self-negating as Nie- 
buhr makes them out to be, even such a temporary gain could hardly 
be expected. The whole case for ethical guidance, indeed, rests on the 
fact that both relatively and absolutely the quantity of good can be in- 
creased and the quantity of evil reduced. As I have said elsewhere, 
evil, like arsenic, is a tonic in grains and a poison in ounces: hence 
its decrease is a major goal of human effort. But all goods are perish- 
able, and evils, like weeds, continue to spring up: so that every gen- 
eration must continue its discriminations and persist in its efforts. 

If there were not this difference in favor of the good, if, speaking 
mythically, the devil were fully the equal of God, and not an inferior 
power who schemes to overthrow his lord but never quite succeeds, 
there would be hardly any sense in preferring good to evil, since any 
gain in the first would only make the second more formidable. On 
those terms, life would be doomed to inescapable frustration. But 
that is like saying that the better a city is planned and built, the more 
slums it will show, or the more law-abiding citizens there are in a 
country the more criminals they will have to fight: propositions con- 
trary to both reason and observed fact. (Thanks to good laws and 
vigilant moral discipline, it was once possible for Daniel Webster in 
all honesty to boast, so low was the rate of crime in mid-nineteenth 
century Massachusetts, that no householder had to lock his door at 
night.) Every assumption that the proportion of good and evil is un- 
alterable must lead, as it has constantly led in Christian thought, to 
a doctrine of quietism: a false creed which, incidentally, is fatal to 
the pursuit of justice and the exercise of civic virtue. 

Our second problem is whether moral principles are absolute or 
relative. That is an ancient theme in ethics; but the modern displace- 
ment of positive standards began in the eighteenth century with that 
representative philosopher, Denis Diderot: in some ways the first and 
the most admirable of the “moderns.” In his annotated edition of 



Shaftesbury he noted that ‘‘there is no moral principle, no rule of vir- 
tue whatever,” that could not be contradicted by customs and condi- 
tions in some other race or climate of the world. The observation was 
true; but the implied conclusion was unsound. 

This devaluation was founded on a romantic exaggeration of the 
importance of the surviving primitives; and it failed to distinguish 
between forms of life that are repetitive, stultifying, infantile, and the 
forms produced by the higher civilizations which, for all their sins 
and lapses, have tended toward development, maturation, emergence. 
Civilized man has indeed much to learn from primitive peoples; but 
those tribes ^and communities that differ most widely in moral values 
from the universal standards of civilization have contributed few im- 
portant values to the rest of mankind. Against many minor departures 
from the common norm, which back up Diderot’s dictum, one must 
place the much more significant fact that the majority of civilized peo- 
ple for the last three thousand years — billions as compared to a few 
poor millions — have lived by progressively universal principles, whose 
similarities are far more significant than their differences. 

Within the great circle of the historic civilizations the main direc- 
tions of morality have been well set: to follow customs and frame laws 
that regulate social relations, in order to make conduct predictable, 
instead of wholly erratic and self-willed; to respect symbols and con- 
serve values; to refrain from murder, violence, and theft; to respect 
organized and sanctioned forms of sexual relationship; to nurture the 
young and stand by them as long as they are helpless; to tell the truth 
and to refrain from falsehood — ^though as to lies, violence, and thefts 
the Greeks of the Homeric poems were still a little shaky. This basic 
morality is in fact common to all human society: what distinguishes 
civilization is a heightened consciousness of the occasions for moral 
choice and a positive effort to extend the benefits of the moral code 
outside the community where it. originated. 

These, and many similar precepts and regulations, are deeply in- 
grained in the human tradition; they remain operative as long as that 
tradition is deliberately passed on from parent to child, from teacher 
to student, from master to disciple or apprentice. Customs and choices 
may, in minor respects, differ; but to have no customs and to make 
no choices — on the ground that obvious historic and natural differ- 
ences make them all meaningless — is to be demoralized. So, too, to 
make any “original” departures from the common norm, such as 



Nietzsche made when he extolled torture, is to open the way for such 
psychopathic conduct as Hitler and his followers practiced. 

Plainly, some norms of conduct are better established than others: 
some are still reserved for in-groups and denied to the out-groups. But 
except in times of social disintegration (when they are widely rejected) 
these norms help to establish an essential part of man’s humanness- 
Now, none of mankind’s present “absolutes” in morals existed from 
the beginning: man was not born, in his primitive state, with a special 
moral sense that enabled him to distinguish at once these universal 
principles. Each is the result of long-continued efforts, experiments, 
appraisals: trials that must still go on. By now, however, certain ques- 
tions, like cannibalism or incest, are no longer open ones. The fate of 
the human race today depends largely upon our moral decision to 
place torture, war, and genocide under the same inviolable rule. Rela- 
tivism, by its indifference to the universal, by its insistence that all 
goods are equally valuable expressions of local taste or ephemeral 
impulse, actually places itself on the side of the tribal, the static, the 
unprogressive: processes and states that obstruct human growth. Even 
the most hidebound ethical system is still more favorable to life than 
a relativism that denies the possibility of universal principles and 
stable standards, or whose one form of obligation is conformity to 
external change. 

Good and evil nonetheless remain in an ambiguous relationship ; and 
in interpreting their operation further we shall, incidentally, do jus- 
tice to the element of truth in the relativist’s position. 


Perhaps the classic statement of this two-faced role of good and evil 
is to be found in the novel, Pierre, by Herman Melville: a novel whose 
sub-title, The Ambiguities, underlines the discoveries that Melville 
himself made in the very course of writing it, and embodied in the 
paper attributed to the Transcendental philosopher, Plotinus Plin- 
limmon, a curious spiritual caricature of Hawthorne and Emerson. 

The title of the paper, Chronometricals and Horologicals, points to 
the relationship between the absolute and the relative. Here Melville 
shows that in the modern world absolute time, as reckoned by the 
planetary movements, is set by the observatory at Greenwich; and 
every vessel setting out from London checks its ship’s chronometer by 
Greenwich time. But by the time the ship reached, say, China, its cap- 



tain would discover a startling discrepancy between his own accurate 
chronometer and the local clocks or sundials. If the captain tried to 
conduct the day’s business by a schedule that kept to his own Green- 
wich time, he would be sleeping by daylight and making sociable calls 
when his Chinese neighbors were in bed. 

So with the highest principles of conduct. Each generation, Melville 
observes, produces a few rare souls who try to guide their lives by 
heavenly time, and seek to make that absolute and universal: they are 
ready to sell all that they have and give to the poor, or to turn their 
right cheek when their left is slapped. But men in the mass live their 
lives by local time; they desire to reach heaven before giving all they 
have to the poor; although, as Melville ironically remarks, they will 
find it easier to practice this virtue in heaven, since there are no poor 
in that place. From the smug standpoint of the local time-observers, 
it is heavenly time that is wrong. 

All this brings out a fact that Niebuhr has skillfully, indeed bril- 
liantly, developed: that our ideals, however imperative and absolute, 
must nevertheless reckon with the fact that we live in the realm of the 
historically conditioned, subject to pressures and environmental limi- 
tations that cannot be entirely put aside. In other words, the^ moral 
ideal is a compass point, not a destination: while a fixed orientation 
to north and south is essential in order to find one’s way to port, one 
may have to tack one’s ship, now to the east, now to the west, in order 
to move in the general direction one has chosen; while if one sets one’s 
course unconditionally to north or south, one will find oneself at last 
only in a polar waste. One steers by the fixed North Star, not in order 
to reach an ideal north, but in order to find a fair haven. 

Pierre makes some of these discoveries for himself; but unfortu- 
nately neither he nor Herman Melville drew the correct conclusions. 
In his endeavor to confound the morality of prudence, exemplified by 
Pierre’s worldly mother and her spiritual counselor, the Reverend Mr 
Folsgrave, Pierre brings disorder and disaster into the lives of all 
those around him: his “noble” unconditioned conduct, released from 
all traditional guidance, penetrates the patched garments of conven- 
tion like an X-ray, only to attack the living flesh beneath. His mother, 
his new-found half-sister, his wife, and finally himself pay the penalty 
for his proud intransigence. In pursuing the absolute, with his eyes 
fixed only on the distant horizon, Pierre stumbles into deeper sloughs 
than he would have encountered if he had never raised his eyes from 

beyond moral ambiguities 


the ground and attempted merely to leap over the mud-holes that 
blocked his path, or pursued a circumspect course around them. 

Wherein lay Pierre’s radical error? Mainly in the fact that he forgot 
it is only at Greenwich — at an ideal point — ^that absolute and local 
time coincide. Worse, he forgot that once the Astronomer Royal leaves 
his observatory, he must keep time by an ordinary watch, an imperfect 
instrument which gains or loses time or flatly stops and must be wound 
up: such time will no longer coincide with astronomical observation, 
if he moves east or west of the meridian line. 

Melville may be right in saying that the saints are those who live 
closest to this zero meridian; but that does not make them infallible 
in their daily living, nor does it condemn as untrue to Greenwich time 
the timekeepers that are followed in other lands, provided they have 
made their own corrections with reference to astronomical time. In 
other words, there is no abstract formula for virtue that yields an un- 
conditioned result. What do Pierre’s unconditional idealism or his 
sexual purity profit if they lead to frigidity and impotence, to hate and 
anguish, to misery and suicide? Melville was as wrong-headed as 
Pierre in his conclusions; and the black disaster that finally envelops 
his hero and those whom he loves was the natural climax to his error: 
repeated once more, in effect, in his personal life. 

There is no virtue that may not, at any moment, turn into its oppo- 
site. Humility, pursued too steadfastly, may give rise to pride over 
its very achievement: Pierre’s absolute integrity produces disintegra- 
tion. ‘‘The good in goodness often find an enemy to dread,” as an 
ancient Hindu scripture observes. By the same token, there is no 
vice so desperate, no impulse so depraved, that man may not out of 
his depths, by reaction, create an otherwise unattainable good. This 
explains Jesus’s preference for the sinner to the Pharisee: it was not 
only that the sinner needed more urgently to be saved, but that, once 
saved, he would perhaps be a better man than his more studiously vir- 
tuous rival. 

As essences, good and evil are poles apart: fixed poles. But in ex- 
istence, they are the algebraic signs that indicate positive or negative 
quantities; and they change values as the symbols of life shift from 
one side of the equation to the other. Was not this the meaning of 
Emerson’s Uriel: “Evil will bless and ice will burn”? These paradoxes 
and ambiguities in the moral life are well illustrated by two contrast- 
ing historic occasions: at Athens in the time of Demosthenes and in 
England in the days of Churchill. The Athenians, unable to depart 



from their beloved way of life, doomed themselves to defeat; whereas 
the moral readiness to face danger and death brought life to the British 
and reversed a long series of disasters, occasioned by their earlier un- 
willingness to encounter positive evil. 

That change, as we know, brought compensations that other coun- 
tries, which shrank collectively from making the same choice, did not 
share. The high morale of Britain after the war, with its equable sys- 
tem of rationing, ‘‘fair shares for all”; the resolute effort to cope with 
economic difficulties through the exacting discipline of the austerity 
program; the statesman-like surrender of its rule in India — all these 
positive moral gains were made possible by the original decision to 
accept death and destruction. As long as Britain sought safety and 
peace, its very life was in danger: as soon as Britain dared to face in- 
security and even extinction, it was saved. That algebraic shift is a 
constant factor in the moral life: hence the need for unremitting 

If fullness of life fits the positive definition of the good, this pleni- 
tude does not belong to life in its primeval innocence, overflowing with 
fresh animal spirits and radiant health: it comes only with knowledge 
of good and evil, with action on behalf of one and against the other. 
Ambiguously, though evil itself must be combated, diminished, forced 
into retreat, it enters the human situation as one of the conditions for 
life’s highest fulfillment. Evil and good are both phases in the process 
of growth and self-realization: who shall say which is the better 
teacher? In other words, the very forces which, if triumphant, would 
destroy life are needful to ripen experience and deepen understanding. 

Those who aim at a particular good, are often carried to their des- 
tination by the very path they consciously seek to avoid. In achieving 
a life abundant, accordingly, success lies not in altogether escaping 
evil, but in being able to turn the negative forces to the account of the 
personality itself. For those unprepared to cope with evil, life’s in- 
jurious moments count only as a dead loss. But once evil is accepted, 
as an element as much in the run of vital processes as waste and 
fatigue, the law of compensation may operate; and in energizing the 
spirit evil may — as Helen Keller’s life reminds us — sometimes give 
back more than it has taken. 

The good, then, is that which furthers growth, integration, trans- 
cendence, and renewal. Evil, by contrast, is that which brings about 
disintegration and de-building, arrests growth, creates a permanent 
unbalance, dissipates energy, degrades life, baffles and frustrates the 



spirit, and prevents the emergence of the divine. Not sin but indiffer- 
ence, not erroneous knowledge, but skepticism, are the chief aids of 
the destroyer. 

The concepts of growth, emergence, and transcendence take us far 
in the interpretation of human life: but they provide no terminus for 
human effort; and in that sense, even if life went well at every stage, 
they would leave each of us with a tantalizing sense of incompleteness 
and non-fulfillment, an endless stirring and striving, without any goal 
except a provisional one: a continued ascent of pinnacles that revealed 
only further peaks to climb. But actually, at least in human life, a pro- 
visional stopping place is provided, in the sense that one may have 
momentary glimpses of the end of the journey and of all that one could 
accomplish if one had endless days to command. The need for some 
such finality undoubtedly has led to the conjuring up of eternal heavens: 
mirages of unqualified beatitude, enjoyed forever; but there is a more 
functional interpretation of this idea of heaven which places it, not in 
a period after death, but in the midst of life itself. 

Mary Boole remarked that ‘‘anything which seems to you worth do- 
ing you will never be allowed to do long: ‘pour vous empecher de 
routiner.^ ’’ This is true of all man’s most intense or highest experi- 
ences: from the delight of a common orgasm with one’s beloved to 
the joys of intellectual illumination. But it is in such moments that life 
seems irradiated in every direction: moments detached from all prepar- 
atory activity or further result, moments so intensely good in them- 
selves, so complete, so all-satisfying that neither further emergence nor 
transcendence seem needed, since they are present in the experience 
itself. These are the moments when art seems poignantly to encompass 
all of life’s possibilities, or, by the same token, when life reveals the 
significances of art. 

Without such consummations, without such precious moments, man 
would be but the traditional donkey, flayed by a stick; behind, lured 
by a deceptive carrot in front of him. To be alert to seize such moments 
of high insight, unconditioned action, and perfect fulfillment is one 
of the main lessons of life: endless activity, without this detachment 
and contemplation and ultimate delight, cannot bring life’s fullest 
satisfaction. What man creates in art and thought justifies itself, not 
only by contributing to life’s development and the emergence of new 
values, but by the production of significant moments. Those who have 
encountered these moments, who have held them close, can never be 
altogether cheated or frustrated, even by life’s worst misfortunes or 



by its untimely curtailment. An education or a general mode of life 
that does not lead — ^though by indirection — to such moments and 
heighten their savor, falls short of man’s needs. 


We are now prepared to understand the significance of the Jewish- 
Christian insight into the nature of evil: in particular, its perception 
of the fact that the assumptions that man is naturally good or that he 
may, by trusting entirely to scientific thought and technical invention, 
avoid any contamination of evil, are both illusions. Evil is as much 
a part of human existence as entropy, or the running down of energy: 
in one sense, it is the human counterpart of entropy and chance, break- 
ing down organization, direction, and purpose. In this respect, Greek 
philosophers, who took pride in their own goodness even when they 
denied the certainty of truth or the usefulness of positive science, and 
humanistic philosophers of the eighteenth century type, who believed 
that man was born good and was corrupted only by external institu- 
tions and wily authorities, both failed to take in the facts of existence. 

Unfortunately, the illusion that man is naturally good and can at 
will avoid evil is almost as much an obstacle to human development 
as the philosophy that man is naturally bad and cannot, by any efforts 
of his own, attain to the good: both of them leave human nature in a 
static condition, incapable of achieving wisdom through trial and error 
or reflective insight into its own actual nature. In a time of social 
disintegration, both these interpretations of the dynamic interaction of 
good and evil not merely share’ the field; they impede the necessary 
transformation of personal conduct and social plans. For the fact that 
evil is a constant element in life does not mean that one must submit 
to it; but it means that, if one is to get the better of it, one must ac- 
knowledge it, and above all, one must repent of it — repent in the literal 
sense of changing one’s attitude and turning away. 

As a protection against altering tlieir ways, modern people tend to 
recoil from the very word sin: they will not admit, first of all, that 
they are capable of sinning, and they regard a sense of guilt as an 
unfortunate mental disturbance that should be removed, as promptly 
as possible, by a psychoanalyst. These blameless people, in their 
massive serenity and self-complacence, are probably a greater block 
to the renewal of life today than the most brutal dictators, whose ne- 
farious designs often awaken the very opposition and struggle that 



produce change. It was the blameless statesmen, too rational to enter- 
tain a conviction of sin — ^the Blums, the Beneses, the Chamberlains — 
who led their contemporaries into appeasement and surrender: it was 
a good and upright man, an exemplary citizen, Henry L. Stimson, sure 
that his own decisions were untainted by evil, who not merely sanc- 
tioned the use of extermination bombing but even after there was time 
for reflection continued to justify that infamous policy. 

These blameless ones do not repent: in a mood of fervid self- 
justification they continue their follies and magnify them. That rigid 
sense of self-righteousness, with its inability to confess the evils it com- 
mits and bring them to an end, is perhaps the chief mark of a dying 
civilization. If it could admit the possibility that it was on the wrong 
course, and that every extra effort only hastened the moment of de- 
struction, it would be able to change its direction. Not wishing to be 
other than they are, the blameless ones, in their self-love, cannot con- 
ceive the real alternative: another self, cleansed of guilt and freed 
from folly, capable of renewal. 

This general sense of blamelessness has been abetted, in our time, 
by the fact that our most extravagant sins, perhaps, are less sins of 
violence than sins of inertia. There have perhaps never before been 
such a large number of people in the world who live blameless lives: 
people who work regularly at their jobs, support their families de- 
cently, show a reasonable degree of kindness to those about them, en- 
dure colorless days, and go to the grave at last without having done 
active wrong to a single living creature, except the god within them- 
selves. The very colorlessness of the existence of such people — ^like 
the colorlessness of sea water in small quantities — conceals the col- 
lective blackness of their conduct. For this kind of sin consists in the 
withdrawal from more exacting opportunities, in a denial of one’s 
higher capacities: in a slothfulness, an indifference, a complacence, a 
passivity more fatal to life than more outrageous sins and crimes. The 
passionate murderer may repent; the disloyal friend may regret his 
faithlessness and fulfill his obligations of friendship: but the mean 
sensual man, who has obeyed the rules and meticulously filled out all 
the legal papers, may glory in what he is — and that is a deeper mis- 
fortune; for it is in his name, and by his connivance, precisely because 
he sees no need for changing his mind or rectifying his ways, that our 
society slips from misfortune to crisis and from crisis to catastrophe. 
No wonder that Dante consigned these blameless ones to the Inferno — 



those who were neither for nor against the good. The hell of our times 
is in no small part of their making. 

On this matter, Christian theology has perhaps shown a more pro- 
found insight than any other religion or philosophy; and though the 
essential doctrines relating to evil, sin, repentance, and renewal are 
too often set aside in the Churches today on the ground that they affront 
modern man, proud of his neutral, scientific, sinless world, these in- 
sights constitute the living core of Christianity, which every fuller syn- 
thesis must make use of. The fact is we must admit the constant possi- 
bility of sin, at every stage of life, indeed at every moment: partiality, 
narrowness of vision, self-seekingness, rigidity, miscalculation, stiff- 
necked pride, involuntary involvement with evils that carry one along 
in their surge, as an innocent man may be caught in the midst of a 
homicidal mob — all these have us in their grip. In our civilization, the 
very impersonal forces that preside over so much of our destiny im- 
plicate each of us, almost automatically, in sinful acts. Whether we 
are conscious of it or not, prisoners are mistreated, insane people are 
neglected, poor people are allowed to starve, beastly weapons of geno- 
cide are manufactured, and a thousand other evil acts are committed, 
not without our connivance. We are involved in these sins and can cor- 
rect them only if we confess our involvement and take upon ourselves 
personally the burden of correcting them. 

If the men who misguided France during the fatal decade that ended 
with the surrender of France to Hitler could have had the courage pub- 
licly to confess and repent, they might have brought back the general 
capacity to think and act in a more heroic mold. If the men who mis- 
guided America since 1945, giving away the fatal secret of the atomic 
bomb by exploding it, full of misplaced confidence in atomic and bac- 
terial weapons of genocide, failing to place our full force and author- 
ity behind the United Nations, following the wholly negative policy 
of ^‘containment” toward Soviet Russia, could have confessed their 
sins, at any moment we might have made a new start, on a basis that 
might have brought the world into measures of co-operation still im- 
thinkable. Instead, they magnified the enormity of their military errors 
and their moral guilt — ^their lack of even a self-preservative life-sense 
— ^by commissioning the manufacture of the hydrogen bomb. 

If resistance to such an inner transformation continues, our whole 
civilization will harden further in the very mold that will paralyze 
what benign forces remain and prevent us from escaping a worldwide 
catastrophe. Only people strong enough to admit their constant tend- 



ency to err and sin will be capable of finding new paths: only those 
who confess their sins will be re-activated sufficiently to attempt the 
transformation that must now take place in every institution, in every 
group, in every person. 

But the negative side of this change is not enough; for no one can 
really turn aside from evil unless he has some positive vision of the 
good. Alongside repentance goes a process too often overlooked: the 
re-affirmation of virtues and goods. No more than evil can goodness 
be taken for granted. One cannot hold fast to any good and hope that 
it will remain intact, like a buried treasure: the best tradition, the 
happiest state, will dry up and disappear unless one constantly re- 
views it, replenishes it, and re-affirms it. Nothing that we do by routine 
and habit is safe from corruption. In order to keep old truths alive, 
we must re-think them, every year and every generation, testing them 
in the light of further experience, altering the very terms and words 
with which we express them in order to be sure that our thought is 
still active and dealing with realities. In order to keep good institu- 
tions in operation, we must re-dedicate ourselves to them, correct the 
errors time constantly discloses in their workings, even deliberately 
break up regulations and conventions that are about to crystallize to 
a point where they resist human intervention. 

Without a poignant consciousness of the goods of life, in all their 
freshness and intensity, without some daily glimpse of beauty, some 
expression of tenderness, some stir of passion, some release in gaiety 
and laughter, some quickening of rhythm and music, our very human- 
ity is not safe. To summon up the courage to go through our daily tasks, 
above all in a Time of Troubles, where no goals can be reached with- 
out sacrifice, we must remind ourselves, by conscious daily dedication, 
of the goods we desire and value. This dedication is perhaps the psy- 
chological core of prayer; and every concrete expression of the good, 
in a song or a symphony, a poem or a loving embrace, has some of the 
quality of prayer. There is no creation, in the end, except in the mood 
of love; and if we are impotent to love, the mere recounting of our sins 
will leave ashes in our mouths and cinders in our eyes. 

Indeed, in the process of making over our lives, so that a new pat- 
tern, more favorable to growth and renewal, may be designed, we shall 
not merely re-appraise but re-savor all life’s multifarious goods: mak- 
ing the most of them, no longer snatching and filching them with a 
sore conscience or a sense of personal inadequacy and positive shirk- 
ing. For the final effect of repentance and affirmation is a fresh appe- 



tite for life, all the keener for the fastings, abstentions, renunciations 
that must necessarily precede it. The pain of rebirth will turn, on de- 
livery, into a shout of joy. The fellowship of those who have experi- 
enced renewal will be written on their faces: in a good-humored pa- 
tience, and tenderness, in an outer resolution tempered by an inner 




Most ethical philosophies have sought to isolate and standardize the 
goods of life, and to make one or another set of purposes supreme. 
They have looked upon pleasure or social efficiency or duty, upon im- 
perturbability or rationality or self-annihilation as the chief crown of 
a disciplined and cultivated spirit. This effort to whittle down valuable 
conduct to a single set of consistent principles and ideal ends does not 
do justice to the nature of life, with its paradoxes, its complicated proc- 
esses, its internal conflicts, its sometimes unresolvable dilemmas. 

In order to reduce life to a single clear intellectually consistent pat- 
tern, a system tends to neglect the varied factors that belong to life by 
reason of its complex organic needs and its ever-developing purposes, 
indeed, each historic ethical system, whether rational or utilitarian or 
transcendental, blandly overlooks the aspects of life that are covered 
by rival systems: and in practice each will accuse the other of incon- 
sistency precisely at those imperative moments when common sense 
happily intervenes to save the system from defeat. This accoun'is for 
a general failure in every rigorously formulated system to meet all of 
life’s diverse and contradictory occasions. Hedonism is of no use in 
a shipwreck. There is a time to laugh and a time to weep, as The 
Preacher reminds us; but the pessimists forget the first clause and the 
optimists the second. 

The fallacy of systems is a very general one; and we can follow its 
ethical consequences best, perhaps, in education. The moral becomes 
equally plain, whether we consider a fictional or an autobiographic ac- 
count. One thinks, for example, of Sir Austin Feverel’s system in 
Meredith’s The Ordeal of Richard Feverel. Full of reasoned contempt 
for the ordinary educational procedures of his culture, Sir Austin 
contrives a watchful private system, designed to avoid current errors 

and to produce a spirited, intellectually sound, thoroughly awakened, 




finely disciplined young man. But the system-maker had not reckoned 
upon the fact that a young man, so trained, might, as the very proof 
of the education, fall in love with a young girl not duly accounted for 
in the system and elope with her in marriage; and that when the sys- 
tem intervenes in this marriage in order to carry out its own purposes, 
it would bring on a far more harrowing tragedy than any purely con- 
ventional mode of education, less confident of its high intentions, less 
set on its special ends, would have produced. 

Or take an even better case, none the worse for being real : the child- 
hood of Mary Everest, that extraordinary woman who eventually be- 
came the wife and helpmate of the great logician, George Boole. Mary’s 
father was the devoted disciple of Hahnemann, the philosopher of 
homeopathic medicine; and he applied Hahnemann’s principles, not 
merely to illness but to the whole regimen of life. Following strictly 
the master’s belief in cold baths and long walks before breakfast, the 
system-bound father practiced upon his children a form of daily tor- 
ture that drove Mary Everest into a state of blank unfeelingness and 
irresponsiveness. She hated every item in the strict routine; and her 
whole affectional and sentimental life as a young girl, in relation to 
her parents, w'as warped by it. The resentment she felt against this in- 
flexibility and this arbitrary disregard of natural disposition is indeed 
still evident in the account she wrote at the end of a long life. 

Believing blindly in the system, Mary Everest’s father never ob- 
served what was happening to his beloved children in actual life: for 
the sake of carrying through the doctrine, he blindly disregarded the 
testimony of life and took no note of scores of indications in his chil- 
dren’s conduct and health that should have warned him that he was 
working ruin. Every intellectually awakened parent who applied one 
or another of the rival systems in psychology and education that be- 
came fashionable during the last thirty years can testify out of his 
own experience, if he reflects upon it — or at least his children could 
testify — ^to the fallacy of over-simplification that is involved in the 
very conception and application of a system. Life cannot be reduced 
to a system: the best wisdom, when so reduced to a single set of in- 
sistent notes, becomes a cacophony: indeed, the more stubbornly one 
adheres to a system, the more violence one does to life. 

Actual historic institutions, fortunately, have been modified by anom- 
alies, discrepancies, contradictions, compromises: the older they are, 
the richer this organic compost. All these varied nutrients that remain 
in the social soil are viewed with high scorn by the believer in sys- 



terns: like the advocates of old-fashioned chemical fertilizers, he has 
no notion that what makes the soil usable and nourishing is precisely 
the organic debris that remains. In most historic institutions, it is their 
weakness that is their saving strength. Czarism, for example, as prac- 
ticed in Russia during the nineteenth century, was a hideous form of 
government: tyrannical, capricious, inwardly unified, severely repres- 
sive of anything but its own orthodoxy. But, as Alexander Herzen 
showed in his Memoirs, the system was made less intolerable by two 
things that had no lawful or logical part in it: bribery and corruption 
on one hand, which made it possible to get around regulations and to 
soften punishments; and skepticism from within, on the other, which 
made many of its officers incapable of carrying out with conviction and 
therefore with rigor the tasks imposed. In contrast, one may note in 
passing, the relative “purity” of the present Soviet Russian regime 
serves to buttress its inhumanity. 

This tendency toward laxity, corruption, disorder, is the only thing 
that enables a system to escape self -asphyxiation: for a system is in 
effect an attempt to make men breathe carbon dioxide or oxygen alone, 
without the other components of air, with effects that are either tem- 
porarily exhilarating or soporific, but in the end must be lethal; since 
though each of these gases is necessary for life, the air that keeps men 
alive is a mixture of various gases in due proportion. So it is not the 
purity of the orthodox Christian doctrine that has kept the Eastern 
and Western Churches alive and enabled them to flourish even in a 
scientific age, but just the opposite: the non-systematic elements, seep- 
ing in from other cultures and from contradictory experiences of life: 
covert heresies that have given the Christian creed a vital buoyancy that 
seemingly tighter bodies of doctrine have lacked. 

The fallacy of exclusive systems has become particularly plain dur- 
ing the last two centuries: never have their errors, in fact, proved more 
vicious than in our own time. 

Since the seventeenth century we have been living in an age of sys- 
tem-makers, and what is even worse, system-appliers. The world has 
been divided first of all into two general parties, the conservatives and 
the radicals, or as Comte called them, the party of order and the party 
of progress — as if both order and change, stability and variation, con- 
tinuity and novelty, were not equally fundamental attributes of life. 
People sought, conscientiously, to make their lives conform to a sys- 
tem: a set of limited, partial, exclusive principles. They sought to live 
by the romantic system or the utilitarian system, to be wholly idealist 



or wholly practical. If they were rigorously capitalist, in America, they 
glibly forgot that the free public education they supported was in fact 
a communist institution; or if they believed in communism, like the 
founders of the Oneida Community, they stubbornly sought to apply 
their communism to sexual relations as well as industry. 

In short, the system-mongers sought to align a whole community ac- 
cording to some limiting principle, and to organize its entire life in 
conformity to the system, as if such wholesale limitations could do 
justice to the condition of man. Actually, by the middle of the nine- 
teenth century, it had become plain that the most self-confident of the 
systems, capitalism, which had originally come in as a healthy chal- 
lenge to static privilege and feudal lethargy, would, if unmodified by 
other social considerations, strangle life: maiming the young and inno- 
cent who toiled fourteen hours a day in the new factories, and starving 
adults wholesale, in obedience to the blind law of market competition, 
working in a manic-depressive business cycle. As a pure system, capi- 
talism was humanly intolerable ; what has happily saved it from violent 
overthrow has been the absorption of the heresies of socialism — pub- 
lic enterprises and social security — ^that have given it increasing bal- 
ance and stability. 

Now a system, being a conceptual tool, has a certain pragmatic use- 
fulness: for the formulation of a system leads to intellectual clarifica- 
tion and therefore to a certain clean vigor of decision and action. The 
pre-scientific age of abstraction, as Comte originally characterized it, 
was a general period of un-knotting and disentanglement: the numer- 
ous threads that formed the warp and woof of the whole social fabric 
were then isolated and disengaged. When the red threads were united 
in one skein, the green in another, the blue and purple in still others, 
their true individual texture and color stood out more clearly than 
when they were woven together in their original complex historic pat- 
tern. In analytic thinking one follows the thread and disregards the 
total pattern; and the effect of system-making in life was to destroy an 
appreciation of its complexities and any sense of its overall pattern. 

Such a sorting out of systems, with its corresponding division into 
parties, made it somewhat easier, no doubt, to introduce new threads 
of still different tones or colors on the social loom: it also encouraged 
the illusion that a satisfactory social fabric could be woven together of 
a single color and fiber. Unfortunately, the effort to organize a whole 
community, or indeed any set of living relations, on the basis of mak- 
ing every sector of life wholly red, wholly blue, or wholly green com- 



mits in fact a radical error. A community where everyone lived ac- 
cording to the romantic philosophy, for example, would have no stabil- 
ity, no continuity, no way of economically doing a thousand things that 
must be repeated every day of its life: left to spontaneous impulse, 
many important functions would not be performed at all. By whose 
spontaneous desires would garbage be collected or dishes washed? 
Necessity, social compulsion, solidarity play a part in real life that 
romanticism and anarchism take no account of. 

Similarly, a community that lived on the radical principle, divorc- 
ing itself from its past and being wholly concerned with the future 
would leave out as much of the richness of historic existence as John 
Stuart Mill’s father left out of his education: by cutting off memory, 
it would even undermine hope. So, too, a thoroughly Marxian com- 
munity, where no one had any life except that provided by the State 
on terms laid down by the State would do away with the possibility 
of creating autonomous and balanced human beings: thus it would 
forfeit — as Soviet Russia has in fact forfeited — the generous core of 
all of Marx’s own most noble dreams. 

In short, to take a single guiding idea, like individualism or collec- 
tivism, stoicism or hedonism, aristocracy or democracy, and attempt 
to follow this thread through all of life’s occasions, is to miss the sig- 
nificance of the thread itself, whose function is to add to the complexity 
and interest of life’s total pattern. Today the fallacy of “either-or” 
dogs us everywhere: whereas it is in the nature of life to embrace and 
surmount all its contradictions, not by shearing them away, but by 
weaving them into a more inclusive unity. No organism, no society, 
no personality, can be reduced to a system or be effectually governed 
by a system. Inner direction or outer direction, detachment or con- 
formity, should never become so exclusive that in practice they make 
a shift from one to the other impossible. 

None of the existing categories of philosophy, none of the present 
procedures of science or religion, none of the popular doctrines of 
social action, covers the method and outlook presented here. Not per- 
sonalism, not humanism, not materialism, not idealism, not existential- 
ism, not naturalism, not Marxian communism, not Emersonian individ- 
ualism can comprehend the total view that, in the name of life, I have 
been setting forward in these pages. For the essence of the present 
philosophy is that many elements necessarily rejected by any single 
system are essential to develop life’s highest creative potential; and 



that by turns one system or another must be invoked, temporarily, to 
do justice to life’s endlessly varied needs and occasions. 

Those who understand the nature of life itself will not, like Engels 
or Dewey or Whyte, see reality in terms of change alone and dismiss 
the fixed and the static as otiose; neither will they, like many Greek 
and Hindu philosophers, regard flux and movement and time as unreal 
or illusory and seek truth only in the unchangeable. Coming to the 
practical affairs of life, this philosophy of the whole does not over- 
value any single system of property or production: just as Aristotle 
and the framers of the American constitution wisely favored a mixed 
system of government, so they will favor a mixed economy, not afraid 
to invoke socialist measures when free enterprise leads to injustice 
or economic depression, or to favor competition and personal initiative 
when private monopolies or governmental organizations bog down in 
torpid security and inflexible bureaucratic routine. This is the philoso- 
phy of the open synthesis; and to make sure that it remains open I 
shall resist the temptation to give it a name. Those who think and act 
in its spirit may be identified, perhaps, by the absence of labels. 

The skepticism of systems is a basic thesis of this book; but it has 
another name: the affirmation of organic life. If no single principle 
will produce a harmonious and well-balanced existence, for either the 
person or the community, then harmony and balance perhaps demand 
a degree of inclusiveness and completeness sufiicient to nourish every 
kind of nature, to create the fullest variety in unity, to do justice to 
every occasion. That harmony must include and resolve discords: it 
must have a place for heresy as well as conformity: for rebellion as 
well as adjustment — and vice-versa. And that balance must maintain 
itself against sudden thrusts and impulsions: like the living organism, 
it must have reserves at its command, capable of being swiftly mo- 
bilized, wherever needed to maintain a dynamic equilibrium. 


Modem man, committed to the ideology of the machine, has suc- 
ceeded in creating a lopsided world, which favors certain aspects of 
the personality that were long suppressed, but which equally suppresses 
whatever does not fit into its predominantly mechanical mold. Every 
effort to overcome the strains and distortions that have been set up in 
society by the general process of moral devaluation that has taken place 



during the last century, must have as its goal the restoration of the 
complete human personality. 

All life rests essentially on the reconciliation of two opposite states, 
stability and change, security and adventure, necessity and freedom; 
for without regularity and continuity there would not be enough con- 
stancy in any process to enable one to recognize change itself, still 
less to identify it as good or bad, as life-promoting or life-destroying. 
The fixed structure of determined events — as Melville beautifully put 
it in the mat-weaving chapter in Moby-Dick — is the warp on which 
the shuttle of free will weaves the threads of different colors and thick- 
nesses which form the texture and pattern of life. Internal stability 
even of temperature, independent of a wide range of changes in the 
outside world, is a mark of the higher vertebrates; and since man, at 
the head of this vertebrate mammalian stock, has the widest range of 
responses of any organism, he likewise needs extra mechanisms, which 
he develops in mind and culture, for creating within himself the equi- 
librium that is essential for both survival and growth. To achieve bal- 
ance without retarding growth, and to promote growth without perma- 
nently upsetting balance, are the two great aims of organic education. 

Without balance there is defect of life; and if any proof were 
needed of that miscarriage, the increase of neuroses in our civiliza- 
tion, even apart from the number of people so ill that they are ad- 
mitted to hospitals and asylums for the mentally unbalanced, would 
almost be sufficient. We have created an industrial order geared to 
automatism, where feeble-mindedness, native or acquired, is necessary 
for docile productivity in the factory; and where a pervasive neurosis 
is the final gift of the meaningless life that issues forth at the other 
end. More and more, our life has been governed by specialists, who 
know too little of what lies outside their province to be able to know 
enough about what takes place within it: unbalanced men who have 
made a madness out of their method. Our life, like medicine itself, 
has suffered from the dethronement of the general practitioner, capable 
of vigilant ^election, evaluation, and action with reference to the health 
of the organism or the community as a whole. Is it not high time that 
we asked ourselves what constitutes a full human being, and through 
what modifications in our plan of life we can create him? 

Now, the notion of balance has something of the simplicity and natu- 
ralness of the conception of the human body as most admirable and 
beautiful in its nakedness, which the ancient Greeks arrived at and 
made visible in their sculpture. Seemingly, that naked beauty was 



present from the beginning. But when we observe other cultures we 
see that the naked body in all its simplicity, developed in every part, 
undeformed and undisguised, is in fact a positive achievement. No 
small human effort, before and after the Greeks, has been spent on 
concealing the human body, on decorating it with garments, on mu- 
tilating it or scarifying it, on painting it or fantastically tattooing it, 
on altering the natural shape of the head, like tlie Peruvians, binding 
women’s feet, like the Chinese, on carving the face or on creating fan- 
tastic ducklike lips, like the Ubangi, on covering the head with a wig 
like the Egyptians or the eighteenth century Europeans, on exagger- 
ating the nose or the ears or the buttocks. 

In fine, the Greek notion of letting the body arrive at its full growth, 
without distortion and without concealment, finding beauty in its vis- 
ible harmony and inner rightness, was a revolutionary conception. 
To delight in the human body without shame, to enjoy it without adul- 
teration, is no simple human prerogative: it comes only at the summit 
of a high culture. 

So with the notion of organic balance: both in the community and 
in the person. In the long history of civilizations the balanced per- 
sonality, even as an ideal, stands forth as a similar rarity. Perhaps 
the reason for this rarity springs out of the peculiar nature of civiliza- 
tion: the fact that in origin it was based on the division of labor and 
on compulsory work: two measures that increased efficiency in pro- 
duction and multiplied the power of tlie ruling classes, at a general 
sacrifice of life: so that almost every people looked back to an earlier 
period of balance on a more primitive level as their veritable Golden 
Age. The conception of the balanced person, the Whole Man, first was 
put forth, perhaps, by the Chinese: in the person and teachings of 
Confucius, they beheld such an image and were profoundly affected 
by it. 

But it was the Greeks of the fifth century who arrived at the fullest 
expression of the balanced person: first in life and then in reflection. 
Witness the living example of such a man as Sophocles, handsome in 
body and great of soul, capable of leading an army and writing a 
tragic drama, ready to move through every dimension of human ex- 
perience, keeping every part of his life in interaction — ^here was the 
balanced person in its fullest development; and the culture of Athens, 
which produced such a man, also brought forth within two centuries 
a greater number of such men than history has shown anywhere else. 



That balance and that fullness of life were not long maintained. 
As Plato recognized in The Republic, even Athens at her best had never 
found a place for half the human race, its women, in its plan of life: 
the inner conflict between romantic homosexual love and domestic 
heterosexual love produced a fissure that weakened this whole so- 
ciety. All the attempts to renew this society from Plato and Epicurus 
to Paul, from the early mystery religions to Christianity, sought to 
give woman a role the fifth century Athenians had denied her; but by 
the time this was achieved, the conditions that had been so favorable 
to the balanced personality in the fifth century had been undermined: 
a Time of Trouble is, almost by definition, a time of imbalance and 

But there was likewise a good reason for rejecting the classic doc- 
trine of balance in its original form; and this is that the early formu- 
lation of it was a static one. From our insight into process throughout 
the universe, above all from our knowledge of the living body, we 
know that the stability we seek is not that of a closed system, which 
has achieved a fixed and final shape, like the stability of a crystal, 
and might remain the same for ten thousand years. All living creatures 
are open systems, constantly seizing energy, converting it into “work’’ 
and dissipating it and then replenishing it over again: so that the only 
form of balance that is truly conceivable or desirable in the human 
organism is a dynamic balance: that of the fountain, endlessly chang- 
ing, though within the pattern of change retaining its form. Even the 
figure of the fountain is inadequate to describe organic forms, for 
dynamic balance itself undergoes shifts and changes through the cumu- 
lative effects of memory and through the further effects of time and 
fresh events and new purposes on maturation and growth. 

As with walking, one achieves balance in life only by a series of 
lunges, which are in turn compensated by other lunges: to arrest that 
movement, in the interest of equilibrium, would be to paralyze the 
possibility of growth: the very condition that the equilibrium itself, 
in living organisms, exists to further. The events tlmt most upset the 
balance of the personality in actual life, illness, misfortune, error, sin, 
grief — events that would deface any system of static perfection, as a 
blow with a^ hammer would deface a marble statue — ^have the effect 
of furthering spiritual growth and transcendence far more positively 
than any condition of effortless ease and freedom from sin would 
produce. The hot house fruits of life, the product of the “best possible 
conditions,” have perhaps a waxen beauty and freedom from surface 



imperfection that fruits grown in the open, susceptible to wind and 
weather, to worm and blight, do not possess: but the latter have the 
finer flavor, and, at least in the personality, the most interesting and 
significant marks of growth. 

The classic notion of balance allowed no place for the negative mo- 
ments of life: it dreamed of a timeless perfection that made no use of 
time itself, nor of the process of maturation, nor of trial and error, 
nor of sin and repentance: that is to say, it denied the processes of 
growth, which upset the possibility of static perfection in the act of 
enlarging the domains of beauty and significance. In this respect, the 
Christian understanding of the radical imperfection of life provided 
a better interpretation of man’s essential biological as well as his per- 
sonal nature than the classic One. Balance is valuable as an aid to 
growth: it is not the goal of growth. 

But the ideal of balance is too central ever to disappear completely. 
In partial form it reappeared in the Benedictine monastery, with its 
life devoted to work, study, and prayer: a life whose concern for the 
manual arts rectified the bias of earlier leisure-class schemes. In the 
Renascence, partly under the influence of Platonic ideas, the ideal 
came forth again in the dual conceptions of the gentleman and the 
artist. In both these personalities there was an effort to do justice to 
the whole man: the warrior, the priest, the philosopher, the athlete, 
the manual worker, were united, in non-specialized forms, in a single 
human organism: the gentleman. Alberti, Leonardo da Vinci, Michel- 
angelo, were equally developed on the side of thought, feeling, emo- 
tion, and action: the painting of the Sistine Chapel was not merely a 
work of imagination, hut a gymnastic feat that demanded hardihood 
and daring. Among the aristocracy, during the Renascence, women 
played a fuller part than they had done in Greece: and therefore the 
social balance was more effective. But neither slavery as practiced in 
Greece, nor the combination of feudalism and early capitalism that 
prevailed in Western Europe during the fifteenth century made it 
possible to exten^ the ideal of balance to every member of the com- 
munity: so at the very moment that balance and unity became visible 
in the great personalities of this period, a paralyzing specialization 
and subdivision of labor made its way into the community at large: 
robbing the manual worker of such autonomy and balance as even the 
peasant once had at a low level in his daily life. Still, the ideal of 
the gentleman, fully cultivated in every aptitude of mind and body, 
lingered on into the nineteenth century: there was some of the Renas- 



cence facility and roundedness in men like Goethe and Jefferson; and 
this was incarnated, in more democratic form, in a Thoreau, a Melville 
and a Whitman, with their capacity as gardener, surveyor, woodsman, 
farmer, printer, carpenter, sailor, as well as writer. 

The growth of a mechanistic culture, during the last three centuries^ 
has confirmed the older habits of caste division and specialization, by 
narrowing the province of the individual worker, by multiplying and 
refining the particular forms of specialization, by lessening the per- 
sonal significance of his task. Those who still sought for some sort of 
wholeness, balance, and autonomy were driven to the outskirts of 
Western society: the pioneer alone preserved the qualities of the all- 
round man, though he was forced to sacrifice many of the goods of a 
rich historic tradition to achieve this. In general, the notion of the 
segmentation of labor was carried from the factory to every other 
human province. 

In accepting this partition of functions and this over-emphasis of 
a single narrow skill, men were content, not merely to become frag- 
ments of men, but to become fragments of fragments: the physician 
ceased to deal with the body as a whole and looked after a single organ, 
indeed, even in Dr Oliver Wendell Holmes’s time, he remarked on spe- 
cialists in diseases of the right leg, who would not treat those of the 
left. In similar fashion, each man tended to nourish in himself, not 
what made him a full man, but what made him distinguishable from 
other men: mental tattooing and moral scarification were supposed to 
have both high decorative value and immense practical efficiency. Such 
people cheerfully bartered the fullest possibilities of life in order to 
magnify their power to think, to invent, to command. 

As a result, the apparently simple notion of the balanced person, 
like the notion of the naked body, symmetrically grown and harmoni- 
ously developed, without the over-emphasis or distortion of any organ, 
a person, not rigid and hard-shelled, but supple and capable of mak- 
ing the fullest response to novel situations, unexpected demands, 
emergent opportunities, almost dtt)pped out of existence: repressed in 
life, rejected in thought. Even groups and classes that had once es- 
poused the aristocratic ideal of living a full and rounded life, shame- 
facedly dropped their traditional aspirations and made themselves 
over into specialists, those people Nietzsche pregnantly called inverted 
cripples^ handicapped not because they have lost a single organ, but 
because they have over-magnified it. Upon the ancient Babel of tongues 
was erected a new Babel of functions; and the human community 



tended to turn into a secret society, in which no person was sufficiently 
developed as a man to be able to guess what the other person, equally 
undeveloped as a man, was thinking and feeling and premeditating. 
Naturally this is an exaggeration: yet it hardly does justice to the loss 
of the facilities for communication and communion that has taken 
place. Only men who are themselves whole can understand the needs 
and desires and ideals of other men. 

Historically speaking, the periods of highest vitality, fifth century 
Athens, thirteenth century Florence, sixteenth century London, early 
nineteenth century Concord, are those in which most men have been 
whole, and in which society has found the means of supporting and 
furthering their wholeness. In such cultures, organs and capacities 
and potentialities have been so generally developed that each person 
could, as it were, change places with any other person and still carry 
on his life and work: a general life-efficiency more than compensated 
for the special facilities derived from narrow concentration. I see no 
reason to think that Bacon wrote the plays of Shakespeare; but hu- 
man potentialities were so evenly developed during this period that 
the hypothesis is not altogether absurd: not more absurd than to sup- 
pose that Shakespeare might have written The New Atlantis or The Ad- 
vancement of Learning, In those periods of balance and completeness 
— and completeness is an essential attribute of the balanced person — 
Hegel’s definition of an educated man still magnificently held: ^^He 
who is capable of doing anything any other man can do.” 

This view of human development contradicts the central dogma of 
modem civilization: that specialism is here to “stay.” Rather, to the 
very extent that the perversions of specialism are accepted as inevi- 
table, the civilization that clings to them is doomed. Our deepening 
insight into the needs of organisms, societies, and personalities sup- 
ports just the opposite conclusion: specialism is hostile to life, for it is 
the non-specialized organisms that are in the line of growth; and only 
by overcoming the tendency to specialization can the community or 
the person combat the rigidity which leads to inefficiency and a gen- 
eral failure to meet life’s fresh demands. Let our over-specialized 
sluggards consider the ant: in sixty million years formic society has 
undergone no change and the experience of the ants has led to no 
further development, precisely because of the miracle of adaptive spe- 
cialization that brought perfection and stability at the ant’s level and 
closed every route to change and betterment. 



The central effort in the renewal of life today must be to bring back 
the possibility of wholeness and balance, not indeed as goods in them- 
selves, but as the conditions for renewal and grov.1;h and self-transcend- 
ence. We must break down the segregation of functions and activities, 
both within the personality and within the community as a whole: hence 
moral evaluations and decisions must not be intermittent acts, but con- 
stant ones, whose main purpose is to maintain the balance that is partly 
achieved and assist in those further developments, which, by upsetting 
balance, lead to growth and increasing fulhiess of life. 

To this end, our sterile mechanistic culture must be exposed to an 
even more thorough drenching of the emotions than the earlier romanti- 
cists dared to dream of. Without re-establishing the capacity for strong 
expression, for erotic passion and love, for emotional exuberance and 
delight, we shall also be unable to establish the inhibitions and con- 
trols needed to escape automatism and to further autonomous activity; 
for inhibitions, imposed on life that is already tamped down and de- 
nied, are almost a sentence of death. Only those who have said Yes to 
life will have the courage to say No when the occasion demands it. 
Those who are starved will say Yes even to garbage — the current offal 
of the popular press, radio, television — because they have not yet 
tasted food. 

Now the notion of balance in tlie personality is itself a many-sided 
one. Theoretically it derives primarily from a close study of organ- 
isms — internally, by physiologists, externally and socially by ecolo- 
gists. Claude Bernard was the first to establish scientifically that a 
dynamic equilibrium in the internal environment was essential for the 
exercise of man’s higher functions: he also proved that very small 
quantitative chemical changes could upset this balance and impair the 
higher functions. But the more thoroughly one studies both organisms 
and groups of organisms, the wider becomes the application of these 
leading ideas: in the diet, for example, even faint traces of copper or 
iodine may be essential to the proper functioning of the whole. Bal- 
ance in other words is both quantitative and qualitative; and this gen- 
eral condition for effective life applies to every human activity. Balance 
in time, which is equally important, is established not by repetition 
but by rhythmic alternation, as of day and night, exertion and rest, 
expression and inhibition: small variations in rhythm may here prove 
to be as important for the full functioning of the organism as the pres- 
ence of tracer elements in the diet; and a routine of work which ig- 



nores the need for rhythms and change may lead to frustration, impair- 
ment of function, and productive inefficiency. 

I purpose presently to carry further the idea of balance: between 
the external and the internal, between the individual and the group, 
between autonomous functions and collective ones, between the transi- 
tory and' the enduring: finally, between the local and tribal on one 
hand, and the cosmopolitan and universal on the other. By our sys- 
tematic scientific insight into balance today, we can carry the whole 
process much farther than was possible through the earlier Greek or 
Renascence intuitions. But here I would emphasize one special aspect 
of balance that has a profound bearing upon the good life, all the 
more because it is an aspect that has, in our generation, been gener- 
ally ignored: the balance that must be maintained between the expres- 
sive, life-asserting moments and the negative, inhibitive, nay-saying 

In reaction against the forbidding rigidity of feudalism, modern 
man sought to remove all boundaries and throw off all restraints. 
Blake’s dictum, Damn braces, bless relaxes, might have served as 
practical guide. Such freedom was mainly escapist: freedom from 
arbitrary coercion, from stagnant duties, from outworn obligations. 
But “freedom from,” even when amply justified, must be attached to 
a positive ideal of “freedom for”: and this by its nature involves a 
new restraint — fixation on a self-imposed goal. The freedom of the 
spoiled child, who has everything he might wish for and lacks only 
the power to wish or the patience to see his wish through, is the worst 
of slaveries. Freedom in love, for example, demands an inner readiness 
to be in love, freedom for commitment and continuity, not just for 
new erotic adventures. The Casanova who flits from lover to lover 
loses by that inconstancy one of the qualities of mature love: the totality 
of its attachment, the need, despite fluctuations of passion, for a long- 
continued union. There is no freedom in wandering unless one is 
equally free to stay home. So in other phases of life, inhibitions are 
as essential to freedom as to balance. Relaxes and braces, expressions 
and inhibitions, in a rhythmic interplay. That is a prime secret of 

Here I cannot improve on the observations of that wise woman, 
Mary Everest Boole, when she said: “The ordinary man thinks of 
physical temperance as a process of sacrificing the lower pleasures 
to the higher; he does not understand that the rhythm of temperance 
should be kept especially in what he calls the highest. The true prophet, 



on the contrary, knows tliat nothing is good except in rhythmic alterna- 
tion. He is no more a glutton intellectually than physically; he no 
more desires the constant enjoyment of what is called realizing the 
Presence of God than he craves for unlimited brandy; he no more 
aspires to a heaven of constant rapture in the intercourse of Jesus and 
the Saints than to a Valhalla of everlasting mead-drinking in tlie com- 
pany of ever lovely Valkyries. He desires, for every fibre of his body, 
and every convolution of his brain, and for all the faculties he may 
hereafter acquire that each may be the medium of an occasional rev- 
elation. . . . He no more desires for his children incessant health or 
prosperity than he desires for his vines a uniform temperature.” 

Actually, the imbalance between the organism and the environment, 
or more specifically, between the personality and the community, be- 
comes increasingly fatal as we do one of two things: multiply the 
stimuli and pressures that come from without, or decrease the number 
of impulses and controls that originate from withiii. To achieve bal- 
ance requires quantitative control on both sides; and the 'greater the 
means at our command, the greater becomes the need for continence, 
for discipline, for continued selectivity. Very definitely, therefore, the 
notion of quantitative restriction enters into the conception of even 
physiological balance, as it does with no less insistence into any scheme 
of positive morality: constancy and continence: the reduction of the 
maximum possible to the optimum assimilable. As we enlarge the 
sphere of interest and the field of operations, we automatically in- 
crease the number of shocks and stimuli that may throw the personal- 
ity out of balance; and therefore we must counteract this tendency by 
building up protective inhibitory reactions, by lengthening the circuits 
of emotional response, and by slowing down the whole tempo of life. 

But note: the ideal of balance must be applied in society before it 
can be fully ejffective in the life of the person. No amount of watchful 
self-discipline can create the necessary conditions for achieving equi- 
librium and growth within the life of the single individual or tlie iso- 
lated group: that is the fallacy of all fugitive and cloistered virtue. 
Even the Stoic boast, ‘‘Nothing can hurt me,” was a piece of self-de- 
ception. Every system of moral or religious discipline that puts the 
whole weight of change upon the isolated individual does so by mini- 
mizing the actual influences and pressures that are at work in his life, 
and by voiding a large* part of their significance. Profound transfor- 
mations may and do take place first in the individual person: but they 



must come speedily to an end unless the condition for a more stable 
equilibrium is maintained by widening the social base. 

The static balance of a life focused completely within itself and 
lived to itself, the balance of the self-absorbed and self-enclosed mys- 
tic or yogin is, in a sense, too easy to achieve; it is like walking firmly 
on a board laid on the ground: whereas the dynamic balance needed 
for spiritual growth is like that called into play by crossing a chasm 
on a single plank. The risk and the achievement of it are due to the 
constant operation of forces, within and without: the walker’s giddy 
imaginative projection into space, his latent tendencies to suicide, 
weaknesses in the plank, the pull of gravity, the presence of anotlier 
person treading on his heels, all give meaning to a process that would 
otherwise lack both tension and exhilaration. If a hermit’s life is not 
more empty than it is, it is because he has internalized so many of the 
pressures of society: in fantasy he is still a social creature, tempted 
by lusts that do not have to have outward existence to be effective. 

While the person, then, is an emergent from society, it is within so- 
ciety that he lives and functions; and it is for the purpose of sharing 
values and meanings with other persons that the moral life becomes 
something more than a lonely tight-rope walk in a private theater. Not 
merely are we, in the strict Pauline sense, members one of another; 
but balance and purpose require for their sustenance a community 
whose activities and institutions work to the same end. . . , Without 
that constant support, without that interplay between the person and 
the group, only a meager and half-awakened life is possible. It is partly 
in other men’s eyes that one sees one’s true image; it is partly 
through other men’s example and support that one fathoms one’s own 
potentialities; and it is toward a purpose that we share increasingly, 
not merely with our immediate fellows, but with all mankind and with 
generations still unborn, that we rise as men to our utmost height. 

Many thinkers of the nineteenth century, even before specialization 
had been carried to its present pitch, were quick to recognize these 
facts, as I pointed out in The Condition of Man: this indeed is the one 
common element that brings together thinkers as diverse as Spencer 
and Marx and Kropotkin, artists as varied as Nietzsche and Ruskin 
and Walt Whitman and William Morris, Though the ideal of the bal- 
anced man has been less often stated during the last half-century, one 
can find it, once more, in the work of later thinkers, as individualized 
in their philosophies as Patrick Geddes and Havelock Ellis and A. N. 
WTiitehead and Karl Mannheim, to mention only the dead. In the 



United States, the ideal of the balanced personality has been put forth 
by Professor F. S. C. Northrop, in his attempt to unify the ideas of the 
East and the West; and no less significantly, it has been restated, as 
an essential condition for overcoming the corrosions and devastations 
of our age, by such a rigorous psychologist as Edward Tolman, in his 
essay on Drives Toward War. 

After discussing the governing personality-images of Western cul- 
ture in the past — ^tlie Spiritual Man of tlie Middle Ages, the Intellect- 
ual Man of the Enlightenment, the Economic Man of the Victorian 
period, Tolman goes on to say: ^^The underlying thesis of the present 
essay will be that still a fifth myth (or, if you will, a fifth ideology) 
is now nearly ready to appear, and that it must be made to appear. I 
shall call it the myth of the Psychologically-adjusted Man. It will be 
the myth, the concept, that only when man’s total psychology is under- 
stood and all his absolutely necessary psychological needs are allowed 
balanced satisfaction, will a society permitting relatively universal 
happiness and welfare be achieved and war be abolished. It is the 
m;^ (or rather, I dare hope, the ultimately true concept) that man 
is, societally speaking, not a spiritual, intellectual, economic, or heroic 
being, but rather an integrated complex, the entirety of whose psycho- 
logical nature must be understood if general happiness and welfare 
are to result.” 

The chief changes my own analysis would lead me to make in Tol- 
man’s statement would be to add that it is not merely necessary to 
understand man’s complex wholeness, but as a further act of under- 
standing, to create the positive channels through which it can be ex- 
pressed. One of the road-blocks that halt this achievement is that we 
cannot achieve wholeness, either intellectual or personal, merely by 
uniting in their present specialized forms the existing body of men 
and institutions. Such an encyclopedic massing of specialisms — ^which 
H. G. Wells tirelessly advocated — will not produce synthesis in 
thought, any more than an assemblage of specialized functionaries 
within a community will produce a whole and balanced society. Such 
mechanical cohesion, whether promoted arbitrarily by the state or 
through more private initiative, can only produce a state of arrest: 
not to be confused with the state of dynamic integration. Hard though 
it may be for our age to accept the fact, we cannot become fully alive 
again without being prepared to sacrifice the over-development of any 
particular valued, function, and being ready to subordinate it to the 
dynamic good of the whole. This will mean, in almost every activity. 



a decrease in productiveness: happily that decrease will be offset, in 
the end, by an increasing fullness of life. Faced with the life of the 
ordinary machine-worker, for example, we must be ready, if neces- 
sary, to dismantle the assembly line in order to re-assemble the human 
personality. In the interest of creating better citizens, better lovers 
and fathers, better men, we may have to lower the number of motor 
cars or refrigerators produced by the factory: balancing that loss by 
the higher output of men. 

This same rule will apply to almost every specialized facility. Thus 
the scholar who values wholeness, who cultivates the ability to look 
around his subject, to include every aspect, to throw forth tentacles 
into related fields, will not be able to rival in quantitative productivity 
the work of his predecessors, who confined themselves to a narrow 
segment. In each case, something must be sacrificed: if not the man 
himself, then mechanical skill, refinement of detail, speed, output per 
man hour or per lifetime. Though productivity may decrease, the dura- 
bility of the product will go up. With our new standard in mind, it is 
apparent that a large part of the past two centuries’ production, in 
both cities and institutions and books, will have to be done over — and 
done fight. 


One of the most pressing problems of our age, that of creating the 
human basis for our universal culture, would be easy to solve if all 
human beings were fundamentally alike in their constitution and their 
functions: the assumption that one could pay attention to human like- 
nesses and disregard their differences was, indeed, one of the beliefs 
that buoyed up Christian missionary enterprise and made somewhat 
too lightly sanguine the rational-minded philosophers of the eighteenth 

By now, however, we are almost inclined, by reason of the vast 
amount of scientific data that has accumulated in both physiology and 
anthropology, to over-emphasize men’s differences: apart from the ob- 
vious differences in color that men have always recognized between the 
major races of man, we find differences in blood-types and various 
other physical components: we even assume, with a fairly high degree 
of probability, that no two sets of fingerprints are identical No longer 
do we expect to find universal man in nature: he is not a natural organ- 
ism but an ideal type, a product — ^to the extent that he exists at all — 



of effort and culture; a type that overlays biological, regional, occu- 
pational, cultural differences. 

In the matter of balance, we encounter the same original difficulties 
that we do in the case of universality. From the time of the Greeks, if 
not before, students of human nature have recognized definite physio- 
logical and temperamental types. The classic division between the 
choleric and the sanguine, the phlegmatic and the melancholy, has in 
our time been re-discovered and re-appraised through our increased 
knowledge of the functioning of the endocrines and their effect upon 
bodily structure, functional response, and character. In personal ex- 
pression, another kind of division discloses itself: that named by Jung 
in his description of the extravert and the introvert: the first outward- 
turning, active, dominating, externalized, the second inward-turning, 
passive, withdrawing, internalized. Nothing is more rare, perhaps, than 
an even distribution of character-traits or a fine, delicately maintained 
balance between introversion and extraversion. 

If a division corresponding to the four temperaments were a clear- 
cut one, as some of the cruder accounts of physique and character have 
assumed, there would be little hope of creating balanced personalities: 
at best, one would have to outfit each particular temperament with a 
philosophy and a code of ethics suitable for it, without even William 
James’s hope of finding some pragmatic middle way between the tough- 
minded and the tender-minded. Fortunately, Dr William H. Sheldon 
has made a radical reorientation in this whole field, by finding a more 
fundamental kind of constitutional division than earlier investigators 
had discovered: a division related to that which goes on in the devel- 
oping embryo when the three layers of the blastula — ^the ectoderm, the 
mesoderm, and the endoderm — differentiate into their special organs: 
the nervous system, the skeletal and muscular structure, and the in- 
ternal organs. Obviously every human being contains all three ele- 
ments: Sheldon’s special contribution is to attach a numerical scale 
to each component. This device enables him to describe personality, 
not merely by the dominant traits — sometimes misleading, always in- 
complete — ^but by the proportions of the mixture. 

Dr Sheldon calls his personality types the cerebral, the visceral, 
and the muscular types. The first tends to think its way through life: 
the second to feel its way: the third to fight ^its way. Withdrawal and 
inner concentration go with the cerebral type: for the sake of the mind, 
he minimizes bodily enjoyment and shrinks from activity. Sociability 
and hearty bodily appetites go with the visceral type; while muscular 



exercise and organized activity go with the muscular ones. The way of 
the first is a difficult, lonely climb, with sparse rations and a slippery 
foothold, mainly for the sake of enjoying the view when he reaches 
the top. The second performs a Bacchic dance through life, up hill and 
down dale, with quick senses and “storm-swift” feet: ever ready to 
pause for wine and food, for sexual intercourse and blissful sleep, 
not least, for dreams. The third type maiches through life, often in 
squads and companies, muscles tense, eyes aggressively set on the 
enemy, never stopping to meditate or to feel: becoming easily demor- 
alized, like Samson in Delilah’s arms, if once he relaxes into the life 
of feeling. 

In sociological terms, first outlined by Auguste Comte, the cerebrals 
become, ideally, the intellectuals: the theologians, the philosophers, 
the scientists, the symbolizers and system-makers: the viscerals are the 
“women,” or as Geddes and Branford termed them, the emotionals 
and expressionals: artists and poets and lovers, articulate in their 
senses, rich in images and sounds, their minds nourished and fertilized 
by their erotic life: while the muscular types are the chiefs, the lead- 
ers and organizers, the men of action, distrustful of all thought or feel- 
ing that would weaken their capacity for struggle or divert them from 
their practical goals. By various combinations of these fundamental 
attitudes, one arrives at the almost inexhaustible richness and variety 
of human society, in which pure types are an impossibility, relatively 
pure types a rarity, and a balance between the three in any one per- 
sonality perhaps even more singular. 

There is nothing esoteric or academic about the general theory of 
bodily types in relation to character and human potentiality: it is 
rather massively confirmed by common observation. The differences 
in outlook and capacity between Prince Hal and Falstaff, between Don 
Quixote and Sancho Panza, are properly associated in our minds with 
their respective physical appearances. Similarly the Greeks, in their 
idealizations of womanhood, differentiated between the lithe muscular 
huntress, Artemis, the cerebral Athene who had even been born from 
the brow of Jove, and the visceral Aphrodite, who would have been 
spoiled for the offices of love and their further consequences in child- 
birth, if her muscles had been hardened and tightened in the chase, or 
if intellectual specialization had anesthetized her capacities for erotic 
response — ^that curse of the intellectual woman, unwilling to yield to 
her body or abate the compensatory exercise of her cerebral functions. 
Mind and spirit operate in and through the body: even when they 



transcend it, they are modified by its existence. If man’s life were only 
a passing thought in the mind of God, that thought would have to in- 
clude man’s bodily characteristics in order to evoke anything that 
could be identified as man. That is why incidentally there is more rea- 
son in the primitive Christian notion of the resurrection of the physical 
body on the Day of Judgment, than in the gnostic fancy that spirit 
has no need of matter. To be delivered from the prison of the body, 
one must assimilate the social ways and spiritual creations of other 
bodily types and characters. 

If man had lived according to his own nature exclusively, he would 
still exist in a state of animal-like obedience to his instinctual im- 
pulses and his endocrines: the history of human society, therefore, is 
the story of the increasing influence of nurture over nature, of ego and 
super-ego over id. To some extent, every individual must respect his 
biological endowment and live in accordance with it: at the moment 
of crisis, in Shaw’s Androcles and the Lion, the giant Ferrovius dis- 
covers that he is no meek Christian, but a man of angry passion and 
aggressive muscular strength: had he failed to heed that call, he would 
have died of frustration or humiliation. But one of the reasons for un- 
derstanding one’s nature more thoroughly is to cease to be an auto- 
matic victim of its pressures and claims: just because one is human, 
with all three components present in one’s body, one may by educa- 
tion and deliberate culture alter one’s original balance and offset the 
bias of constitution and temperament. 

Every theory of types, whether physiological or social, that seeks 
to re-enforce the type at the expense of one’s common humanity must 
prove in the end antagonistic to growth. This, in fact, is the curse of 
every caste system, and equally the curse of every static division be- 
tween functions and processes, which assumes that the only partly 
used human being should conform to that division. If there were no 
other reason to seek balance and universality, the need to remove 
blockages to human growth and development would be sufficient to 
justify it. 

One of the reasons for the failure of the universal religions, per- 
haps, to achieve the wide and inclusive mission they set for themselves, 
is that the ideal person who gave the religion its stamp still bore too 
plainly the mark of a single biological type: the cerebral one. Now 
that mankind, to guarantee its survival and go further with its devel- 
opment, must create a universal society, capable of embracing all men 
as brothers, it must have as its dominant persona a mask that will fit 



every face, and a goal that promises to bring together, at a common 
point, every particular mode of life. With the ideal balance dominant, 
we shall offset weaknesses, correct partialities, and lay a basis for 
mutual aid and reciprocal understanding. As the division of labor be- 
tween the sexes is justified by their union to bring forth a new human 
being, so the division of labor between the three personality-types will 
be justified by their common parturition of a new kind of man, capable 
of living in a unified world, adaptive to every kind of regional environ- 
ment, embracing every manner of person and culture. 


In reacting against tribalism, the classic religions have often under- 
rated the qualities that are in fact conserved and furthered by the life 
of the primary group and must, in some form, enter into its most ideal 
expressions. The great historic exceptions to this generalization are, it 
would seem, Confucianism and Olympian Hellenism; though in as far 
as Jesus accepted the law of the Old Testament as basic for the New, 
which transcended it, he, too, did justice to man’s original nature and 
tribal culture. Each of these did in fact take in so much of the in- 
instinctual human nature as to seem, to the followers of other reli- 
gions, essentially worldly; or at all events insufficiently concerned 
with the universal and the divine. 

In analyzing the fundamental religious attitudes, one finds that they 
correspond broadly with three general ways of approaching the world: 
to attack, to hold fast, to retreat. Early in the present century, these 
attitudes were characterized by the British scholar, Dr D. S. MacColl, 
as the way of the Titan, the way of the Olympian, and the way of the 
Pilgrim: respectively struggle, domination, withdrawal. Recently these 
three attitudes have been further differentiated and described by 
Charles Morris in a book called The Paths of Life. Here, following 
Sheldon, Professor Morris distinguishes between the promethean, the 
dionysian, and the buddhist components in all religions. 

From the familiar example of Christianity, the Buddhist element 
seems to most people the specifically religious one: the attitude of 
detachment from eartlily life, leading to withdrawal, rejection, inhi- 
bition, This element contrasts with the life-affirming dionysian ele- 
ment: the exuberant display of animal vitality and the heightening of 
all the moments of sensual erethism and efflorescence, in which the 
visceral emphasis even turns the figure of the god, as in the various 



Greek representations of Bacchus, into a feminoid form, with promi- 
nent breasts,* smooth musculature, rounded buttocks and a soft face. 
The third component is that of Prometheus, engaged in a manful strug- 
gle with the conditions of life: he who in our age exercises all those 
faculties that go into mechanical invention and political organization, 
but who was originally symbolized by the mythical hero who stole fire 
from the gods for the sake of improving the lot of men on earth. 

If Dr Sheldon’s analysis of constitutional sets proves valid, then 
Morris’s endeavor to describe ideological interests and total life-re- 
sponse in terms of the physiological type of the believer is equally 
sound: though only on the same terms of inter-mixture that Sheldon 
has established for body and personality. The domination of one or 
another attitude in the original formulation and incarnation of a reli- 
gion tends to explain in no little degree what happens at a later stage, 
when it draws in an increasingly nondescript and non-selective body 
of believers. At that moment, every universal creed must find a way 
of providing for the participation of people whose organic dispositions 
provide a different constellation of natural needs and interests than 
those that entered into the early intuitions and dogmas. 

All these compensatory phenomena, which to the practitioner of reli- 
gion seem backslidings and betrayals, can be interpreted in a more 
understanding psychological way. What are they but attempts to re- 
establish an organic balance which a too one-sided insistence on a 
single need and response has upset? At some time in every religion, 
the ideal type that has been chosen must confront that part of the per- 
sonality it has left out of account: it must face the facts of nature and 
include them within the purview of its ultimate ideal. 

The ideal types that Charles Morris has ably interpreted are capable 
of one further correlation: that in time. This increases their value 
from the standpoint of the philosophy of balance. Going back to Mac- 
Coil’s division, the three phases of personality may likewise be corre- 
lated in his scheme with the three main phases of life. The olympian 
or dionysian element, springing out of vitality and health, tending 
toward playful expression and enjoyment, with its dilation of the 
senses and its exuberance of erotic activity — what is this but the phase 
of youth? Here are the potentialities of the normal human being, be- 
fore illness, family responsibilities, vocational disappointments, or 
physical injuries have subdued its vitality. The olympians know neither 
satiety, exhaustion, nor the prospect of death: in the gleam of each 
new morning, they recover their youth. 



As for the promethean type, which MacColl calls the Titanic, with 
its high degree of purposive activity, its inventiveness and its system- 
atic effort, its concentration on work, its acceptance of hard tasks and 
responsibilities, its constant struggles and agonies, its narrowing down 
of the sensuous life, with its tendency to over-value its vocational skills 
even to the point of accepting bodily malformations, like the black- 
smith’s callus, the professor’s stoop, this is surely the idealization of 
man in middle age, wracked and buffeted about, like cunning Odys- 
seus, in the long Odyssey of middle life. Promethean man, who has 
put his youth completely behind him, despises the dionysian elements 
for the same reason that the utilitarian Gradgrinds of the nineteenth 
century, who built Birminghams and Manchesters where even children 
were given no chance to play, despised the frivolous idlers of the 
British aristocracy, the surviving olympians of another order. 

Dedication and commitment: blood, sweat, and tears: that is the way 
of Prometheus; and the work of the world is carried forward by those 
who are prepared to sacrifice their digestions and even their warm do- 
mestic relationships to see that it gets properly done. Without the 
toughness and discipline of the muscular types, who impose their 
mesomorphic pattern of life more or less upon all those of middle 
age, the tasks of the organizer and the soldier, the colonizer and the 
administrator, the engineer and the business enterpriser, would be only 
half done. Countries like China and India, where the cerebral types 
have dominated, and literary scholarship is the main requirement for 
administrative office, now find themselves handicapped in their attempt 
to create a more balanced civilization by an absence of prometheans, 
people capable of standing up under the burden and the heat of the 
day, who actually enjoy the struggle with refractory materials or hos- 
tile men, which is so distasteful to the buddhist or dionysian tempera- 

Finally, there comes a dark moment when the original life-impetus 
begins to falter; when the animal vitality of youth and middle age 
wane: when one’s best efforts have ended in at least partial failure; 
when accident, disease, vocational crippling, have all taken their toll; 
when the pleasures of the table or the bed no longer are irresistible, 
or in fact seem a little childish, perhaps because the senses are becom- 
ing dull, perhaps because one has repeated these acts once too often: 
when, with lowered capacity and strength, the personality is pushed 
down almost to the invalid’s level; and in order to have something 
like an adequate response, one must reduce the number of possible 



occasions, guarding time, hoarding vitality, in order to make life go 
a little further. 

Enter the Pilgrim: no longer bent on achievement but rather ready 
for disengagement and detachment, passing on the burdens of office to 
others and even taking, like a Hindu holy man, to the open road. At 
this point, life can be lived more completely in the mind, if only for 
the reason that the other avenues of expression are slowly closing 
down. At its best, this is the period celebrated by Po Chii-i in his 
poem On Being Sixty. Between thirty and forty, he observes, one is 
distracted by the Five Lusts; while between seventy and eighty one is 
a prey to all manner of diseases; but from fifty to sixty, one is done 
with profit and fame and has put behind one love and greed: “calm 
and still — ^the heart enjoys rest.’’ 

At this downward cycle of life, every man becomes, if he is con- 
scious of his destiny, a “Buddhist.” For now death makes his ap- 
pearance, not as a passing stranger to whom one waves at a distance 
and never expects to meet in one’s home, but as a constant companion 
whom one cannot shake off. By this time, in the normal course of age, 
the death of friends, relatives, companions, magnifies the steady shrink- 
age of life that is going on in a man’s own body: the dimming of the 
eyes, the falling out of the hair, the wrinkling and sagging of the 
skin, the increasing sense of fatigue in tasks one once took in one’s 
stride. With this shrinkage goes a further withdrawal of interest from 
the external world: the inner deafness and blindness of the aged, which 
so often precedes any actual impairment of their organs. To make the 
most of what remains, one must turn one’s back on life’s fullness: it is 
a time for reducing the intake of food, for curbing too exhausting ex- 
ercises, for falling back on memory, reflection, revery — and in happier 
souls, a time for a more intense inner life, like Titian and Renoir, still 
painting gloriously in their eighties. 

From the outgoingness of youth to the withdrawn-ness and ingoing- 
ness of age: from the visceral life of infancy through the muscular life 
of maturity on to the cerebral life of senescence: that is the trajectory 
of life. Yet as all three components of the body are present, in some 
proportion, at every stage, so all three components of time are like- 
wise present in every moment. Life as a whole exercises a determining 
influence upon each phase that it enters; and too great a segregation 
in time is as conducive to unbalance as too complete a segregation of 
functions and activities. Each part of life is good in its own right; yet 
part of its meaning lies in what it contributes to other phases. Educa- 



tion, in the past, tried to turn children prematurely into adults; but 
today there is a tendency to isolate childhood and to limit its activities 
to those that give pleasure or make sense within its own limited role. 
The principle of balance applies likewise to time: each phase should 
bear within it, either as experience or symbol, some portion of the 
absent whole. Shallow is the youth that is not by anticipatory dream 
committed to maturity: unillumined is the maturity that has not 
achieved the self-criticism that comes with detachment: empty and dry 
is the old age that has not a touch of youth’s irresponsibility and 

Is it any wonder, then, that all the phases of life have been embod- 
ied in the great religions; or rather, that each of them has claimed 
for itself one sector or another of the great arc so described, and has 
even tended to give that phase of life exclusive right to represent the 
whole? But no historic religion has yet sought to sustain life in its 
fullness and wholeness. 

There is one other point that remains to be noted in this correlation 
of the phases of religion with the constitution of persons and the cycle 
of life. Because all these processes, all these types, belong to life in 
its full development, there is a sense in which they are interchangeable, 
too. The young who went to war and faced deprivation and death every 
day, came back, even if they were not physically mutilated, far older 
than their outward appearance indicated: old men, blessed with a pre- 
mature patience and resignation that had nothing to do with their years, 
often cursed by the memory of horrors they were too tender to look 
at, still less to endure. Similarly, a severe illness, a crippling accident 
in early life — see that fine human document, The Little Locksmith, by 
Katharine Butler Hathaway — ^will bring about an attitude of senes- 
cence even in earliest childhood. 

But in a culture like that of contemporary America, just the oppo- 
site change may happen. Because we are committed far too heavily to 
the promethean way of life, a bastard dionysian element may be in- 
troduced as compensation: infantile oral sexuality in the form of smok- 
ing, or equally infantile sensual enjoyment through overdoses of candy, 
ice-cream sundaes, and similar sweets. Such rituals at once promote 
further business and offset at a low level the effects of mechanical con- 
centration. Similarly, this suppressed dionysian element will draw even 
the aged into sexual exploits that no longer comport with either their 
years or supposed experience of life. Note how the matrons of this cul- 
ture will undergo endless efforts of gymnastic and cosmetic to heavily 



counterfeit the vitalities that are naturally at the disposal of their 

What holds for the individual again holds in civilization as a whole ; 
for though the personality is an emergent from community, the rela- 
tionship is interdependent and interacting. Faced with the terrible de- 
vitalizations produced by the Black Death in the fourteenth century, 
the first response to death was that of withdrawal. Even so worldly a 
writer as Boccaccio disclaimed his popular erotic tales and turned to 
writing the soberest religious tracts, precisely as Tolstoy, facing old 
age and death, deserted his magnificent novels. But presently the em- 
phasis shifted again in the sixteenth century from senescence to youth: 
wnth rising vitality came a promethean concentration on the machine 
and a dionysian interest in sexual expression; and these two move- 
ments led to the recovery and expansion of Western civilization, after 
it had reached a lower state of physical depletion than Rome had 
reached at the end of the fourth century. 

In every phase of life, then, we can single out moments of aflBrma- 
tive absorption and moments of negation and detachment: moments 
of elation and engagement, and moments of desolation and disengage- 
ment: while between them there stand out moments of activistic strug- 
gle, to which both plus and minus signs may be prefixed. In other words, 
the Dionysian, the Buddhist, and the Promethean are always with us; 
indeed, if they have their roots in the constitution of the body itself, 
as we have reason to think, this could hardly be otherwise. But it is 
only as concepts that these forms can be found in a pure state: life 
makes mock of purely logical divisions. Buddhism itself, for example, 
would seem free from any ideal propensity to transform the environ- 
ment by the application of technics: yet a promethean element crept 
into the inner core of this religion, in prayer itself, through the inven- 
tion of the prayer wheel; a means of ensuring salvation by the mass- 
production of prayers. 

So, too, in Western culture, with its devout worship of its own Holy 
Trinity, Militarism, Mechanism, and Money, a strong life-denying ele- 
ment persists. Even today^ — and of course still more under the capi- 
talism of the nineteenth century — the exhausting routine of the factory 
and the office, the harsh drill and discipline of the army, reduce the 
urges and enjoyments of organic existence to a minimum. Read the 
biographies of the early inventors and entrepreneurs: above all the 
story of the workers who were sacrificed to their hard, inhuman ambi- 
tions: you read a story of mortifications and self-flagellations that 



match anything in medieval hagiology. Robert Gair, the paper manu- 
facturer, abandoned a honeymoon in order to consummate a profitable 
business deal. That tale can be repeated with a hundred variations. 

The sense of worldly guilt and damnation, which Protestantism 
found in its soul, was no doubt eased by this new form of self-punish- 
ment, though it worked out ambivalently, since great were the financial 
rewards of those who thriftily renounced immediate enjoyment. Even 
more definitely, a cerebral element of life-rejection enters into the 
dominant attitude of the scientist: it is the essence of the post-Galilean 
methodology. For the world, as conceived by Galileo, Newton, and 
Descartes was a world stripped of all its dionysian qualities: a world 
in which color, form, pattern, sound were meaningless, except as 
mathematical quantities, and in which feeling and desire and imagina- 
tion were disreputable. 

This translation of Christian life-negation into a far more pervasive 
and inescapable system of rejection and mental ascesis w^as one of the 
feats of cultural sleight-of-hand that accompanied the transition from 
the medieval to modern order. Perhaps some of the spiritual authority 
that now adheres to science derives from the fact that the scientists 
have been the authentic saints of the modern age. From Copernicus to 
Pascal, from Faraday and Henry to Einstein, they have set an example 
of high spiritual devotion, untainted by the pomps and lusts of a 
wicked world. This has given their mode of thought the authentic re- 
ligious stamp that moves tlie masses of men. 

As for the promethean religious ideology, it is associated with the 
effort of the activist, energetic, muscular types to turn their own bodily 
prowess first of all toward the direct domination and enslavement of 
other men. The Persians, the Spartans, the Norsemen, the Moslem 
Arabs, and the Turks conceived existence as a struggle, with hardships 
and penalties as a, natural accompaniment to all activities. Meeting 
obstacles in the purposes of other men, these groups intensify their 
own naturally aggressive and sadistic reactions: with whip and rod, 
with fire and sword, with plague and famine, they and their Gods seek 
to dominate their fellow-men. The world, during the last three cen- 
turies, was colonized by Prometheans, who treated nature as ruthlessly 
as they treated the underlying populations: today the very existence 
of life on this planet is threatened by tlieir pathologically one-sided 
descendants, whose commitment to the destructive processes has now 
been amplified beyond all sanity by the conquest of atomic energy in 



the West, and the building up of great nationalist military machines 
in Russia and China. 

Promethean forms of religion, and notably that of Russian com- 
munism, in our own day, are an expression of the over-valuation of 
struggle as a formative element in life: it was not for nothing that^ 
Marx and Engels hailed Darwin’s ^‘struggle for existence” as an essen- 
tial ingredient of dialectical materialism. This prometheanism has 
little use for the slow processes of maturation and growth: rather, it 
must deny slow organic procedures in order to confirm its own con- 
viction that physical power, if wielded ruthlessly, can avoid the need 
for more complex and co-operative methods of change; mutual aid. 
Though the aim of the Prometheans is power, they punish themselves 
almost as violently as they punish their conquered peoples: witness 
the cruel disciplinary practices in the British public schools in the 
heyday of the Empire, or the whole training and discipline of the Prus- 
sian officer caste, including the saber cuts that the members of the stu- 
dent corps proudly courted and counted on their own faces. 

The chief refractory element in a society dominated by promethean 
values is woman ; for she cannot, without renouncing her own biological 
role, turn away completely from sensual delight and organic fulfill- 
ment in child-bearing: against the relatively katabolic and destructive 
male, her own body preaches the lessons of consumption and growth, 
of yielding to life and enjoying its fruits. Promethean man, not able 
to take woman’s role seriously without partly denying the validity of 
his own narrow concerns, reduces her to a plaything: typically, the 
delectable houri in whose arms the Moslem warrior, dying in battle 
for Islam, will transact an eternity of sensual bliss. Even here prome- 
thean man is often the victim of his paranoid ambitions and his com- 
pulsive routines: he loses the sympathetic delights of sexual union in 
a tyrannous routine of record-making. 

Each of the classic religions, we see, reveals and in some degree 
depresses the ideal dimensions of the human personality. Under the 
pressure of the immediate historic situation, in which these religions 
took form, they have failed to embrace the full life of man, in its or- 
ganic diversity and variety. No matter how catholic or universal the 
professions of the classic religions, they have left out of account much 
that it was important to include both in doctrine and in practice: where- 
fore the wisdom of the race is contained, not alone in the sacred books, 
but in the immense secular literature that has grown up beside these 
books. In the effort to achieve a balanced personality and a universal 



culture, we must offset these tendencies to over-prize a single type of 
personality-structure and a single way of life. 

On this point, Patrick Geddes’s words confirm the intuitions and 
practices of Sri Ramakrishna, he who sought to understand other forms 
-of religion than his own by putting their doctrine and precepts experi- 
mentally into practice. These insights are a salutory challenge to the 
tendency of every religion to regard its own truth as the highest and 
completest form of revelation: so high that it can overlook other truths, 
so complete that it can exclude them. “All the gospels,” Geddes af- 
firmed, “are various views of life, and all true — as far as they go. All 
the myths are true, too. It is pitiful nonsense that one has heard, ever 
since Darwin frightened the curates: '"Do you mean to say you believe 
in the Bible?’ spoken in a fearful voice by would-be scientific folk. Of 
course I believe in the Bible . . . and in the Koran, and in all the 
bibles of all peoples, whether savages or Buddhists, Celts or Chris- 
tians. To those storehouses of past wisdom one makes one’s own con- 
tribution. I make mine by seeing that life is bigger and more wonder- 
ful than has been thought; and that all the gospels put together cannot 
encompass it.” 

Just as in the coming Constitution of a World Government no tribe 
or region must be overlooked or neglected, or permitted to remain 
cut off from conversation and co-operation with the rest of mankind 
whenever it manifests a desire for them, so no part of the human con- 
stitution may be neglected in our effort to achieve the universal: we 
must even provide harmless outlets for irrationality and aggression, 
in order that we may not be maimed by their repression and unseemly 
eruption. Every personality bears the stamp of its individual unique- 
ness, irreplaceable in every dimension, identifiable in the very whorls 
of its fingerprints. Each personality, too, bears the imprint of its type, 
its biological type, its social type, its class-conditioning and its total 
cultural conditioning, so that its uniqueness still falls into many de- 
finable types and categories. Finally, every personality bears the im- 
print of the universal: that which is viable in all situations, translatable 
into all tongues, not merely because it issues out of the common human 
lot, but because it indicates a resolution to create and participate in 
a common destiny. When man ignores this universal aspect, his whole 
life breaks down, and in compensation he will seek to make some minor 
form of unity, that of the tribe or the self -enclosed ego, take the place 
of the whole. Every mode of unity by suppression mars the purpose 
it professes to serve: only unity by inclusion in an expanding and 


forever unfinished whole is capable of doing justice to the uniqueness 
and inexhaustible promise of man’s nature. 

We have now reached a turning point in mankind’s history, when 
we must consciously include, in our ideological and religious concep- 
tions of the nature and destiny of man, the three fundamental com^ 
ponents that have so far tended separately to seek exclusive domina- 
tion. Each world view, each system of life, must add to its fundamental 
doctrines precisely those elements that are lacking: elements over 
whose absence — as in the case of the scientific ideology — it has some- 
times foolishly taken pride. Each fundamental type of life-experience 
must find itself represented in the new synthesis of ideas and values: 
each must be capable of participating, in some degree, in the life- 
attitudes and expectancies, in the hopes and dreams and actions, that 
are native to the other type. Only such religions as are capable of un- 
dergoing this re-orientation will have a creative part to play in form- 
ing the universal society and the balanced man. Toward that objective, 
many other activities must be subordinated. 


No system of philosophy, no institution of religion, no social move- 
ment has yet fully exhibited the characteristics of wholeness and au- 
tonomy and universality that will be sufficient, when incorporated into 
our daily practices, to save mankind from the destructive forces now 
at work. 

Put alongside the demands of this protracted crisis, our minds seem 
unstirred, our feelings numbed, our actions unenlightened and feeble: 
Hermann Broch’s epithet. The Sleepwalkers, characterizes both the 
leaders and the led with strict accuracy. Docile automatons, we prepare 
for our own destruction and even, by our urgent unfeeling actions, we 
hasten the result. Who among us, during the last half-century, can pre- 
tend that he has not carried on at least part of his life in almost trance- 
like unconsciousness of the evils that have threatened, and still threaten, 
himself and his fellows? In this respect possibly the worst offenders 
are those our civilization most reveres: its pure scientists. For it is hard 
to break good habits; harder than to break bad ones. Even he whose 
life I shall presently hold up as an example perhaps chose the easier 
way, rather than the right way, when, despite his perception of the 
extent of the threatening world catastrophe, he left Europe again after 
the First World War and turned back to his mission in Africa. 



Yet, here and there in our society, individual men and women have 
appeared who prefigure, in their lives and actions, the collective trans- 
formations that must take place; they are like the Essenes, the Thera- 
peutae, the mystery cults, that heralded the coming of Christianity. 
-Sometimes they are entirely humble people who, by a single act, dem- 
onstrate that they know better than the actual leaders of our society 
tlie radical shift in attitude that is needed if we are to lay the founda- 
tions for a better life. Such a person was the owner of a warehouse 
corporation in New York, Mr James J. O’Neill. When the United Na- 
tions needed to transport their cumbersome records and belongings to 
another building, he carried through the w^hole costly operation with- 
out charging for his services; not in the full light of publicity, for the 
sake of indirect advantage, but modestly, quietly, to demonstrate his 
faith in this institution: so that his act came to light only when the 
officials of the United Nations properly paid him public thanks. 

That individual act, setting at nought the established patterns of 
commercial activity by its renunciation of profit, its sacrifice of even 
a minimum normal compensation, testified to an unconditional com- 
mitment to the ideal of world unity. Such a person, too, was the Amer- 
ican painter, Mr Harold Weston, who in the early part of the Second 
World War, when most officials in the American government were en- 
grossed solely with military preparations, conceived the postwar neces- 
sity of an international organization devoted to the succor and the re- 
habilitation of starving peoples whose homes had been destroyed, 
whose lands had been devastated. Instead of leaving that thought 
alone, as an idle dream, or dismissing it as an officious suggestion to 
come from an artist, this man besieged the official world at Washing- 
ton. Those in power, at first obstinately opposed to such an ‘‘‘‘untimely” 
suggestion, were almost shocked by it. Fortunately, by sheer moral 
conviction and determination, Mr Weston not merely got a hearing 
for the idea but finally saw it embodied in the organization later known 
as the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. 

No less decisive an exponent of active personal responsibility was 
Mr R. L. Humber: the author of the Humber resolution in favor of 
World Government, passed by many State Legislatures in America. 
Not content to wait for national action, this far-seeing advocate from 
North Carolina conducted a personal campaign in state after state to 
convince his fellow legislators that, for the good of their local com- 
munity, no less than the world, they must further and re-enforce the 
process of creating, out of the present imperfect union of jealous sov- 



ereign states, an effective World Federation. The method was as ad- 
mirable as the objective: for Mr Humber understood that no univer- 
salism was possible that did not have its origin and its sanction in the 
local community. By reasoned argument and quiet persistent effort 
this one man started a movement of great potentiality — though it ha S'" 
since been th waited by servile fears and reactionary suspicions. But 
had there been as many as a dozen men, similarly possessed by this 
idea, similarly ready for action, similarly capable of self-sacrificing 
personal effort, neither the Republican nor the Democratic parties 
would have lapsed so quickly into an improvident belligerence or a 
pusillanimous isolationism — both based on a superstitious faith in the 
magic properties of the atomic bomb. 

These are but a few examples, accidentally known to me, among 
thousands, scattered through every country: equally heroic and de- 
cisive. By such a willingness to break with the comfortable automatisms 
of the past and to participate in acts of world unity and integration, a 
new attitude will be passed from these leaders to other members of 
our society: each personal choice, each individual commitment, will 
confirm the new ideology and put it to the test of effective action. On 
the other hand, without the support of an ideal purpose, framed in a 
conscious philosophy, even the most impersonal and self-sacrificing 
acts, like those of the soldiers who fought under the United Nations 
flag in Korea, will fail of their full effect. 

From many possible witnesses, in our own age, I shall turn to one 
whose long career affords a classic example of renewal and integra- 
tion. I choose Albert Schweitzer because his life is in outline already 
familiar to many readers; and because his books, the conscious ex- 
pression of his philosophy, are accessible in many languages. But it 
is on his life rather than on his writings that I shall concentrate; for 
his actions have transcended the limitations of his thought. Schweitzer’s 
conscious philosophy, from my standpoint, is sometimes contradictory 
and inadequate: in the world of ideas, to speak with candor, he is not 
one of the greatest luminaries. But his intuitions are better integrated 
than his reasons; and the transformation effected in the life and work 
of Schweitzer is more profound and more widely significant than the 
best ideas he has yet formulated. From his actions, one may deduce 
a fuller philosophy than that which has consciously guided him. And 
through his masterly example, the task of formulation becomes an 
easier one. 



Consider the course of Albert Schweitzer’s life. He began as a stu- 
dent of philosophy who turned to Christian theology; and in his early 
twenties he did so brilliantly at his chosen career that honors and fame 
would have come to him rapidly, had he been content with the role of 
pastor and theologian. Within the theological world, he was plainly 
one of the olympians: he might have lived and died in that role, like 
so many other churchmen, preaching the doctrines of a religion he 
had never tested or practiced by any major act: the willing observer 
of outward forms and ceremonies, the happy recipient of worldly 
courtesies and worldly honors. 

Fortunately, one of Schweitzer’s early studies was an intimate ex- 
amination of the life of Jesus, whom he rescued from the fashionable 
impugners and devaluators by a more rigorous use of the very historic 
method they had used for deflating him. This brought him to the con- 
viction that a true believer in Jesus must, in the twentieth century, take 
up the cross himself and perform some redemptive work of sacrifice. 
Such a work would not bring fame and honor, but, more probably, 
neglect, ill-health, possibly death, if not also contumely and oblivion. 
Plainly many evils need to be abated: many sins Western society has 
committed cry for atonement. With a vigilant eye, Schweitzer picked 
a classic example: the degradation of primitive peoples through im- 
perialist exploitation, often coming on top of a primitive life that in 
itself, by reason of its own ignorance, superstition, and brutality did 
violence to the human spirit. 

Hence Schweitzer decided, like many another fervent Christian, to 
become a missionary. But since nothing could be more ironic than to 
carry the word of redemption to people too sunken in disease to be 
made whole, Schweitzer again followed Jesus’s example: he would 
heal the sick while bringing the Gospel to them, and that healing should 
be no small part of his gospel. With that decision, the neophyte threw 
aside the honors of the theologian and settled down to the hard disci- 
pline of the medical student: the “Buddhist” gave place to the Prome- 

Those four years of medical preparation were doubtless difficult 
enough in themselves even to an able student of the humanities, trained 
in the rigorous scholarly discipline of a European university like 
Strasbourg; but they required a further intensity of concentration for 
the reason that Schweitzer, instead of closing up all the other channels 
of life, kept his emotions and feelings quick, by his cultivation of mu- 
sic as an organist. Through his special knowledge of Johann Sebastian 



Bach, Schweitzer brought into circulation again many precious scores 
that had been completely overlooked. As organist, as musicologist, 
above all as lover of music, Schweitzer served Dionysus as well as 
Christ: that constant concern with music, throughout his toilsome life, 
made his wholeness and balance an exemplary one. 

In philosophy or theology, in medicine or in music, Schweitzer’s 
talents were sufficient to guarantee him a career of distinction: as one 
of the eminent specialists of his time, in any of these departments, his 
success would have been prompt and profitable, just to the extent that 
he allowed himself to be absorbed in a single activity. But in order to 
remain a whole man, Schweitzer committed the typical act of sacrifice 
for the coming age; he deliberately reduced the intensive cultivation 
of any one field, in order to expand the contents and the significance 
of his life as a whole. Doubtless the humility that made it possible for 
him to entertain such a sacrifice derived directly from his Christian 
convictions: yet the result of that sacrifice was not the negation of his 
life but its fullest realization; for even in the humid jungles of Africa, 
where he finally made his home, he kept alive his highly cultivated 
interest in music: not merely having his organ by his side, but finding 
time, despite a lack of the usual scholarly apparatus, to write a life 
of Bach. 

Both in his work as a medical missionary and in his public appear- 
ance as an organist, Schweitzer, who was a German by birth, performed 
another act of symbolic importance: an act perhaps easier, more natu- 
ral, in the international world before 1914 than in our own day. For 
Schweitzer’s field of action was less in his own original fatherland, 
among the people who spoke his preferred language, than in the coun- 
try of its rival, and presently its active enemy, France: in that sense, 
he was another Jean-Christophe. So it was to an unattractive colony in 
French West Africa, in the steaming equatorial jungle, that he turned 
for a field of endeavor. There, with occasional intervals abroad for 
lecturing and organ playing — including the interval he spent as a 
prisoner of war in France, in the very hospital at Saint Remy where 
Van Gogh, another imitator of Jesus, had been confined — ^he has lived 
his life: serving a God who recognizes neither white nor black, neither 
French nor German. 

Without that devaluation and renunciation of nationalism, no life 
worthy of tlie name can now be built up. He who is one hundred per 
cent an American or a Russian, a German or a Frenchman, a Euro- 
pean or an African or an Asiatic, is only half a man: the universal part 



of his personality, equally essential to his becoming human, is still 
imborn. Every act that softens the egoistic claims of nations and accen- 
tuates the unity of mankind, adds another foundation stone to the new 
world that we must now build. 

^ All the great spirits of our time participate with Schweitzer in this 
devaluation of nationalism and this lowering of barriers. Vivekananda, 
breaking the Brahmin’s rule against overseas travel to come to the 
Congress of Religions in America and to carry his mission to Europe: 
Patrick Geddes, spending ten of the best years of his life in India, ex- 
ploring its living resources and planning its cities in consonance with 
its own mode of life: Gandhi, breaking down caste lines that are even 
more inviolate and obsessive than national barriers: Nansen, the ex- 
plorer, engaged on a universal rescue expedition, so that even the form 
of an international passport under the League of Nations, the first 
prophecy of world citizenship, bore his name — all these people, break- 
ing down the walls of hateful egoism and aggressive pride, which keep 
men apart, are at the same time bearers of cultural pollen: producers 
of those cultural hybrids which, Flinders Petrie long ago remarked, 
are no less superior in civilization than in farming. 

By the same token, the intense isolationism and xenophobia of the 
Russian communists has undermined the original universality of their 
doctrine, even as that of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a 
somewhat less influential body, has undermined the universal prin- 
ciples of an earlier American revolution. Nothing could in fact prove 
more surely that Russified communism is not the creed of the opening 
age, but rather its desperate antagonist, its would-be destroyer, than the 
fact that it now denounces ^^cosmopolitanism,” and not merely fails to 
propagate, but even refuses theoretically to sanction, any ideas and 
forces of a imiversal character. There is something colossally comic 
in the essential identity in attitude toward the universal expressed by 
the Soviet rulers, the reactionary and repressive sons of one revo- 
lution, and their spiritual counterparts in America, the equally reac- 
tionary and would-be repressive daughters of another. Against such 
perversions and pandemonium the universalism of Schweitzer’s mis- 
sion stands out. 

Schweitzer’s arduous career as a medical missionary condemned 
him to a long period of relative obscurity. But at the same time it 
gave him a perspective on Western life that determined the further 
direction of his thinking: it was such an act of detachment as leads 
to a more inclusive view of man and his destiny than any closer in- 



volvement in immediate issues can give. As a result, Schweitzer’s two- 
volume diagnosis of our Time of Troubles counts among the earliest 
contributions to an adequate self-analysis of our civilization: differing 
from the earlier forecasts of Burckhardt and Henry Adams because 
Schweitzer, like a good physician, regards his prognosis, not as et 
death sentence, but as an incentive to rational action. 

Published a few years after Spengler’s Decline of the West, Schweit- 
zer’s studies, grouped under the general title of The Philosophy of 
Civilization, were plainly conceived independently of Spengler’s work 
and were unaffected by it, though they pictured, as unsparingly as 
Spengler had done, the disintegrating forces that were already visibly 
at work. The lack of human values and ethical principles, in our posi- 
tivistic, mechanical civilization, was on Spengler’s diagnosis the most 
serious cause of our ills. Instead of urging, as Spengler did, a willing 
submission to the processes of barbarism, as the implacable destiny of 
Western man in our time, Schweitzer urged a return to the generous 
cosmopolitan humanism of the eighteenth century. 

Here is an indication of Schweitzer’s intuitive grasp. Though he 
himself followed the way of Jesus, he recognized the original limita- 
tions of Jesus’s thought: it was the product of a parochial, self-centered 
culture, obsessed by the myth of national deliverance through the 
agency of a Messiah, while Jesus himself, as Schweitzer had demon- 
strated, erroneously regarded the approaching end of the world as a 
determining factor in human conduct. Schweitzer saw that the ethical 
foundations for a world society had been laid, not by Jesus nor even 
yet by the Christian Church, but by the great Chinese sages, Confucius, 
Mencius, and Mo-Ti: the translation of their thought, even indirectly, 
which accompanied the introduction of porcelain and silk and wall- 
paper into Europe, had a formative effect on some of the best minds 
of the eighteenth century and gave to its ethics, no less than to its 
gardens or its tea-tables, a Chinese cast: Chinese in origin but as wide 
in its province as humanity itself. 

Coming from a Christian, a Christian by active consecration as well 
as formal espousal, Schweitzer’s doctrine revealed the depth of his 
insight; for against the formalism of theology, he saw that the eight- 
eenth century had been, in fact, a time when Christian doctrine, often 
abandoned in formula, was perhaps as active in actual life as it had 
been in the Middle Ages, encouraging men to mildness of conduct, 
even in the midst of war, to a common understanding and a tolerance 
of imderlying differences, to universal enterprises that tended to make 



the world one. This century produced international philanthropists 
like John Howard and international patriots like Thomas Paine. 

Men like Howard and Paine undoubtedly under-rated the forces of 
a closed society, as did the new eighteenth century Order of Free 
-Masonry; by failing to do justice to the domestic self-containment of 
the primary group, they perhaps even contributed in some measure 
to the nationalist reaction, which began ideologically with Rousseau 
and Herder, and practically, with the French revolution. But the belief 
in the possibility of universal standards and universal goals, applying 
to the actions of men because they shared a common humanity, was 
a healthy one; and Schweitzer recognized that fact. Note that the 
title of Part Two is not Religion and Civilization but Ethics and 

Among American theologians it has become the fashion to speak of 
ethics without religion as a mere cut flower, with no roots in the soil 
of life: beautiful, perhaps, but doomed to wither. But careful historic 
analysis shows that just the opposite is the truth; for ethics lies in the 
common earth of life, with roots that go deep into our animal ances- 
tors; while religion, though it takes us to the mountain top and dis- 
closes vistas that stretch far beyond our common daily horizon, pro- 
duces wider ethical imperatives only because it rests securely on an 
older ethical order. On the basis of animal loyalty and love the higher 
values, the divine sanctions, become possible. 

Schweitzer’s affirmation of eighteenth century cosmopolitanism, lib- 
eralism, and optimism, contrasts with Reinhold Niebuhr’s unfavorable 
interpretation of the same period. Though Niebuhr’s insight into the 
shallowness and vanity of the eighteenth century philosophe is a salu- 
tary corrective to latter-day smugness, Schweitzer’s appreciation of 
valuable insights that have been lost or actively discarded seems to me 
equally relevant. How difficult it is in our time to achieve this univer- 
salism, Schweitzer’s own work abundantly demonstrates; for though 
he wrote an extensive critique of Hindu philosophy and religion, even 
he has been tempted at times to over-stress the differences between the 
Christian and the Buddhist doctrine of love, treating the first as if it 
were more life-furthering than it often was in practice, and treating 
the latter as if it were wholly negative and life-denying, in its substitu- 
tion of pity for love and abstention from violence for active succor. 

Aware of the static nature of Hindu civilization, Schweitzer even 
overlooks the affirmative aspect of the popular doctrine of reincarna- 
tion, failing to interpret its truly progressive character and failing to 



see that it provides a more logical system of rewards and punishments 
than the Christian conception of atonement; since it proportions heaven 
to one’s deserts. For all his scholarship, such partiality to Christian 
revelation weakens Schweitzer’s insight as an interpreter of the Hindu 
religions: he lacks in some degree the Catholicism and the charity of 
Archbishop Soderblom’s interpretation of The Living God. Despite 
this, Schweitzer characteristically owes a great debt to Hindu religion 
no less than to Chinese philosophy: for it is from Hinduism, rather 
than from Christianity, that Schweitzer consciously or unconsciously 
derived his central ethical doctrine: the reverence for life. 

The transvaluation of established values, which Schweitzer has so 
magnificently carried out in his own person, has been only partly ful- 
filled in his philosophy: his ideas lack the organic wholeness of his 
life. This arises from the fact that he abandons the attempt to achieve 
a world picture capable of embracing both nature and man: though he 
valiantly bases his interpretation of the non-human world on the sys- 
tematic effort to achieve truth, he founds his system of ethics on some- 
thing apart from this: the will-to-live. 

Fundamentally, Schweitzer’s ethical doctrine merely turns that of 
Schopenhauer upside down: instead of preaching that the will-to-live 
is a curse, he embraces it as a blessing. But by divorcing ethics from 
the larger evolutionary process, Schweitzer’s reverence for life must 
in the end confront this final paradox: if all forms of life prospered 
equally their very success would bring about life’s own end; and be- 
fore that happened the higher forms would die out. No choice can be 
sanely made in terms either of the will-to-live or the derivative doctrine 
of unqualified reverence for life. 

Fortunately, this criticism of Schweitzer’s philosophy does not sub- 
tract any value from his example as a teacher; for there he occupies 
a special pinnacle, by reason of his declared intention, so largely ful- 
filled in his actual writings, to follow truth to its ultimate goal and to 
abide by his findings. Note that intention and consider its applications: 
it contrasts favorably with the attitude of many scientists, who mean 
by truth only their system of truth; and who refuse even to look dis- 
passionately into evidence that might compel a radical revision in their 
own assumptions. 

No integration is worthy of our time or adequate to its challenge 
that seeks to unify men through a private system of truth: pace Gurdjiev 
and Steiner. However feeble science and collective research have been 
in establishing a valid life-wisdom, it is partly by further efforts in 



science and philosophy, equally respectful of *^‘hard, irreducible facts” 
in departments so far ignored, that we shall correct these failings. In 
the highest type of person we can create today, fine thinking is as much 
a mark of excellence as human-heartedness, and an unconditional 
^dedication to verifiable truth is the manifestation of its righteousness. 
Only through the guidance of man’s highest function, his mind, can 
the claims of the rest of his life be fully expressed. 

If Schweitzer’s conscious philosophy is not adequate to express all 
that is implied in his living example, his life fortunately bodies forth 
much for which even categories or symbols are lacking in most phi- 
losophies: in the drama of his life, the philosophic implications of his 
position become crystal-clear. As theologian, physician, and musician, 
as thinker, man of action, and saint, Schweitzer has accepted ail the 
hard claims of our time and performed, in admirable fashion, the 
corresponding duties. None knows better than he, through experience, 
that balance cannot be achieved without sacrifice: yet that balance it- 
self counterweighs and nullifies the sacrifice by intensifying and ex- 
panding the possibilities of life. Schweitzer’s moral greatness derives 
from the fact that he has shown that it is feasible, without renouncing 
the methods and insights of modern science, to achieve that which no 
science, no philosophy, no religion as yet adequately teaches: the pos- 
sibility of becoming a whole man and of living, even under hostile cir- 
cumstances, a whole life. 

In every conscious act, Schweitzer has gone about the process of re- 
newal with exemplary swiftness, simplicity, and directness: a further 
testimony to the soundness of his life-plan. One of the nurses in Schweit- 
zer’s hospital has borne witness to this genius for simplification. “I 
have never before,” she writes, ^‘seen an institution as personal as this 
one; nor have I seen one in which there is such a painstaking, hand- 
made element. There is originality and simplicity in the way every- 
thing is arranged. Emphasis is always laid on whatever is most prac- 
tical.” One might have deduced as much; but that testimony remains 
precious. Embrangled in its complexities, our civilization has an es- 
pecial need for such direct action, and such straight moving, such 
rational simplification. 

Albert Schweitzer’s life, therefore, is a sign and a pledge. His life 
says, better than any book he has written, that however deeply our own 
lives suffer from the passive breakdown or the active destruction of 
our civilization, it is still possible to create a plan of life based on 
more solid foundations and directed toward higher ends: a life more 



organic in structure, more personal in expression, no longer the victim 
of specialism, nihilism, and automatism. 

That this change cannot be effected easily goes without saying: noth- 
ing short of an heroic effort, widely participated in, will suflice. Per- 
haps few of us, no matter how resolute our understanding, will be able 
to achieve the even development of our parts or the all-embracing har- 
mony that Schweitzer in his own person has achieved. Nor need we 
exaggerate Schweitzer’s own success in order to make the goal seem 
more desirable: we must rather assume, since Schweitzer is hut hu- 
man, that there are weaknesses, contradictions, failures in this life: 
that in some degree he, too, remains incomplete, unbalanced, unful- 
filled. All of us must live and act before we have perfected ourselves 
for our new parts, since only through the action can we become more 
perfect. So in the nature of things our best efforts will fall short. 

But these reservations in no wise lessen the love and reverence 
Schweitzer’s example commands: they are indeed assurances that the 
ideal he sets before us is not an unapproachable ideal: rather, it is 
just sufficiently beyond our normal habits and powers to introduce a 
salutary tension into all our activities. In this true person, the springs 
of life have started to flow again: presently, from a hundred similar 
sources along the mountain side, other springs will pour their waters, 
and a mighty stream will begin to carve a new channel through the 
valley below. This new type of man, so different in his balance from 
the Athenian or the Renascence gentleman, demonstrates the possibility 
of re-directing the forces of our civilization, and creating a new work- 
ing unity between our powers and our purposes, which will utilize 
every suppressed or mutilated human potentiality. 

External events beyond our human powers of control may for a 
time make this growth abortive: that has happened before and it may 
happen again. But if Western civilization escapes the evil fate that its 
over-commitment to mechanism and automatism, its wholesale denial 
of humane values and purposes, now threatens it with, if it overcomes 
its delusions of atomic grandeur and its psychotic compulsions to sui- 
cide or genocide, then the form that life will take, and the type of 
personality that will nurture it, is the form and the type that Albert 
Schweitzer has embodied. On such a basis, the renewal of life is 




Every formative movement in culture, if profound enough to begin 
a new cycle of development, seems to start as a reaction against an 
inner disruption of society — ^what Gilbert Murray called a ‘loss of 
nerve.” Almost overnight the familiar life that people have lived be- 
comes meaningless: though they go through the routines of the day, 
inhabit the accustomed buildings, and worship their usual gods, their 
whole life suddenly becomes hollow. In a going culture, even the trivial 
details of existence become significant through their relation to the 
whole. In a disintegrating one, even great ambitions and plans seem 
insignificant, because a living sense of the whole has disappeared. At 
that moment, speech becomes da-da: once dynamic leaders become 
dangling puppets: life itself suddenly gets deflated, with an obscene 
snort, like a toy balloon ripping on a nail. 

Thenceforward a culture may for many centuries go on repeating 
the old pattern of activities and ceremonies: it may even revert to 
archaic modes in order to overcome the dismaying discovery that the 
pattern is becoming dimmer as life itself proves emptier. But this 
crisis may cause a decisive reaction. If the forces of life rally, a new 
movement begins: the old ideas, de-polarized and freed from the pat- 
tern that can no longer use them, become re-united around a new or- 
ganizing idea: the farther the disintegration has gone, the wider is the 
area on which the new idea can draw for sustenances While the process 
of syncretism and synthesis can be traced with classic clearness in the 
history of Christianity, it is more or less present in every great trans- 
formation. When a civilization begins to develop around such an idea, 
it is potentially saved: that is, the lost members of this society — ^lost 
because they have been excluded from it or have found no common 
goal — ^become re-united: supported by the new ideology, they devise 

a new plot, wear a new costume, build new scenery, engage in a hew 


the drama of renewal 


drama. More often than not the excluded ones, the Gentiles, or the 
barbarians, the proletariat, the despised minority, take the lead in 
this transformation. 

In this whole process there is a certain “optimism of pathology,’’ 
as physicians used to call it: that is, where conditions seem worst, as 
in the delirious fever that precedes a crisis, they often have a higher 
chance of becoming better. Only after a certain agony of disintegra- 
tion has been experienced is the soul ready, it would seem, to take on 
the otherwise insupportable burden of creating a new form of life. If 
the social crisis does not bring about death, it may foster fresh growth, 
in the way that a plant whose leaves have been stripped by beetles may, 
even late in the season, put forth fresh leaves. Often the creative period 
in a culture is the moment of rebound from a hard, almost fatal chal- 
lenge: witness Athens after the Persian war, the Jews after the escape 
from Egypt. 

More than one encyclopedic philosopher of history in our time has 
exerted much efEort to understand how and why a cycle of culture or 
civilization develops, flourishes, and comes to an end. Spengler, using 
the simplest but most deceptive of analogies, suggested that all cul- 
tures went through the cycle of the seasons: forgetting that, if he took 
his figure seriously, he would have to account for the possibility of 
cultures situated in regions without any marked quarterly contrasts 
between cold and heat, growth and dormancy. Toynbee, building on 
Spengler, has gone exhaustively into various aspects of growth, arrest, 
and disintegration, with far more concrete detail and a more generous 
allowance for contradictions and discrepancies than Spengler. Unfor- 
tunately, at the end, Toynbee comes forward, if I understand him, with 
the suggestion that the mission of a culture in its final stages is to 
produce such a state of collapse and torment and irremediable dis- 
integration as to make people give up all hope of earthly fulfillment. 
This leads to the development of a new type of Heaven-centered so- 
ciety — inconceivable, it would seem, to the whole and healthy — di- 
rected toward Eternity and functioning “out of time.” On Sorokin’s 
interpretation cultures fluctuate between ideational and sensate types, 
the first mystic, inward, otherworldly, the second pragmatic, external- 
ized, positivist: a view which, despite the wealth of scholarship that 
supports it, seems to combine the weakest features of Spengler and 
Toynbee, though it tries to avoid the arrogant dogmatism of the first 
and the anti-historical otherworldliness of the second. 



Now there are crushed and splintered fragments of truth in all three 
interpretations; and I would willingly utilize them: often the splinters 
penetrate deep. My own interpretation, however, is based on the as- 
sumption that man has repeatedly altered his archetypal biological 
^plan of life by creating, through his culture, a social ritual and a 
drama, formed by his own special needs and conforming to his own 
emerging purposes. This new drama was, perhaps, a natural result 
of the increasing division of labor; for with such division went a 
multiplication of roles: choices thus opened before the members of 
such a society, not given altogether in their ancestral patterns. Within 
a developing society, fresh tensions arise and struggles ensue, between 
the old static tribal selves and the new cast of characters. This dramatic 
conflict heightens the interest of life: in search of it, men leave the 
custom-bound village and go to the city, for the city, out of its variety 
of human resources, provides a new mode of unity other than repeti- 
tion and ritual: unity of dramatic theme. This theme is defined and 
modified by recurrent collective choices. 

Drama, taking form in the theater, constantly appears as a symbol 
of a culture, at the moment the culture itself transforms stereotyped 
routines into unexpected dramatic actions, rich with new possibilities 
for life. For over the drama of the higher cultures presides a general 
guiding theme, a plot that encompasses every part of society and that 
involves each actor in a role other than his natural biological one, or 
the fixed prescriptions of social ritual. Thus emerging and developing 
social purposes get the better of habit and custom, tempting man into 
efforts that call forth otherwise xmused stores of vital energies. In this 
drama of a culture man takes a further step in the process of interpre- 
tation that began with his utilization of the dream in art and his inven- 
tion of language. By dramatic enactment, which encompasses his place, 
work, and folk, the scene, the action, the lines, and the plot, man 
interprets a larger range of phenomena than he could by any system 
of limited observation: he takes it in not merely as spectator but as 
participant: as playwright, manager, and scene-builder, too. This 
multi-functional role, enclosing every aspect of life, yields a fuller 
knowledge of the possibilities of existence, of man’s nature and destiny, 
than could be achieved by any narrower m4ans; for it invokes the 
widest kind of collaboration, and brings about the utilization of every 
possible aptitude and function. 

The conception of the plot and the building up of the main themes 
of culture is one of the principal offices of religion. That which moves 



men to dramatic action in roles other than their natural ones is in fact 
their religion, no matter by what name they may call it. Thus the ac- 
tive religion of the Romans was not the pious performances attached 
to moth-eaten cults of local deities, but the construction of the Roman 
imperium: that of the American pioneer was not Protestantism, but the- 
conquest of nature and the winning of the frontier. It was for these 
ideas that men struggled and sacrificed and willingly died. The de- 
tailed working out of these dramas in successive scenes and actions lies 
at the very heart of human history. What stands outside the collective 
drama belongs to the lumber room of history or to the heating and 
plumbing system of the theater: necessary incidents to producing the 
drama, but with no specific reference to what takes place on the stage. 
Who would go to the theater if all that happened was a series of scenic 
changes and fresh lighting effects, staged for their own sake? Man is 
easily bored by all the preparatory activities Nature forces on him: 
his drama is precisely what makes life interesting to him. 

The rise of civilizations, from this point of view, is associated with 
the formulation of a dominant unifying theme and the creation of a 
central role for the hero, with subordinate roles for the supporting cast. 
But in the further development of the drama, more than this is re- 
quired: the building of a special stage, the design of fresh scenery and 
properties, which will providfe a symbolic background for the action, 
the further elaboration of roles, so that every member of the com- 
munity will have a significant part to play. Meanwhile, the action tends 
to shift from the original central characters to the whole society that 
supports them. 

Naturally, the lines of this drama are unwritten: the play itself is 
full of unplanned-for surprises, misplaced climaxes, prolix interludes, 
disconcerting breaks in action, awkward passages from comedy to 
tragedy: at best, it is a sort of commedia delV arte, in which the actors 
improvise the lines as the plot progressively unfolds itself and, through 
their own fresh interpretations, gathers point and significance. Every 
culture produces a drama and is a drama : it interprets life and is life. 
Threatened by regressions to man’s animal past, or by arrest in tribal 
rituals, man escapes from these limitations through the invention of 
drama, in which he renounces the perfection that animal societies 
know, and the stability that tribal societies achieve, by enacting the 
plot of the possible; choosing his costumes, his scenery, his lines, in 
order to give new meanings and purposes to human life. In the drama 



of a culture, man both holds the mirror up to nature and discovers po- 
tential selves that would otherwise lie dormant and unformed. 

This dramatic interpretation of human culture does not seek to re- 
place other interpretations, the economic, the religious, the psycho- 
•^logical, the geographic: its merit is that it includes them and exposes 
the partiality of the effort to single out any aspect of the performance 
as the sole significant one. And if this is in fact a clue to the develop- 
ment of cultures, it is likewise perhaps a key to their decline. When a 
culture begins to disintegrate it does so, not because the seasons have 
changed, not because it is old and decrepit, not even because it has 
met an external injury or shock, but because its guiding theme, which 
bound all the parts of it together, political activities and economic 
affairs — and art and philosophy, too — ^has become exhausted: the acts 
of progressive self-revelation and self-understanding have been played 
out to their appointed end. The operative cause, which touches every 
institution simultaneously, is the collapse of meaning: the disintegra- 
tion, not simply of this or that part, but of the overall pattern. As soon 
as this happens, the old scenery becomes irrelevant; the stage becomes 
cluttered with useless properties, which are themselves obstructive to 
fresh action: no longer impelled by its plot, the culture lacks choices, 
and even when presented with them, its leaders are incapable of mak- 
ing fresh decisions. 

So, what begins in the growth of civilizations with the quickening 
of traditional ritual into a dramatic struggle, with challenges made 
and accepted, with purposes carried out or frustrated, falls back into 
a smooth, sordid-morbid routine. Yes: the old words have been spoken 
once too often: the old gestures have become a compulsive tic: life be- 
comes full of vain repetitions, and the tensions and the ambitions that 
roused men to play their parts cease to be satisfactory even as ritual. 
The essence of drama is action and struggle in an important role, work- 
ing up to an undisclosed climax through choices freely made. When 
the tension relaxes, the end itself disappears and the whole meaning 
, of the performance evaporates. If the actors do not have the sense to 
leave the stage when that moment comes, then a tedious epilogue will 
be recited, just interesting enough, perhaps, to keep the audience from 
dispersing: witness Egypt after 1200 B.c. or China after the Sung 
Dynasty. At this point the actors, who had once thrown themselves 
into their work, leaving their everyday selves to take on their higher 
roles, refuse to take their parts seriously, particularly if the acting 
demands some strain and effort. They are tempted either to clown it 



or to fall back on their natural off-stage selves. This phase of vulgar 
naturalism is the end of all the arts: not least the art of life. 

Now historically this relapse into the ‘^natural self” is usually ac- 
companied by an outbreak of rampant vitality: not the meaningful 
vitality of culture, but the blank raw vitality of barbarism, the regres- 
sive “barbarism of civilization,” as Vico called it. With this the forces*^ 
of the id, which had been held in restraint by the very requirements 
of the drama, manifest themselves in an upsurge of untrammeled lust 
and aggression, greed and senseless violence. Since men do nothing 
without some form of ideological disguise, if not support, this de- 
thronement of the super-ego, this debasement of the ego, this mag- 
nification of the id, is accompanied by a deliberate cult of the primi- 
tive and the infantile. At this moment, all the more mature and more 
significant forms of life are dismissed, with contempt, as a mere hypo- 
critical mask, an empty show. Effortlessness and purposelessness, the 
positive denial of significance and order, become qualifications for 
public success and approval: the chief reason for existence becomes 
a denial of any reason for existence. Nausea, followed by vomiting, 
not merely becomes almost a dominant symptom of the spiritual life, 
but the vomit itself is prized as life’s essential product: the ultimate 
reality in all its sour denial. 

Short of this final rejection of life, in anything but a physiological 
sense, each organ seeks its own separate satisfaction, as each member 
of this disintegrating society seeks his own temporary safety and pros- 
perity, or as much of it as he can “get away with.” If they still go 
through the motions of work it is only to make possible their dissipa- 
tions and distractions and debaucheries. Neither direction nor self- 
control is left in such a society: its only form of inhibition or repres- 
sion is that exercised against the higher functions. The plot of such a 
society is an inverted drama: it begins with the murder of the hero and 
successively mutilates, tortures, or exterminates every subordinate 
character. Boasting his decapitation, modem man parades, like a 
figure by Dali, in a blasted landscape, kicking his own head before 
him. The raw id, like unscreened energy, is fatal to what is specifically 
human: the new barbarian, with not even an animal’s life-plan to guide 
him, must debase even his animal functions. So Hitler and his accom- 
plices invented new mutilations of the human body in order to defile 
the spirit more effectively. The very idea of hell, an eternity of torture, 
was the subjective by-product of such a disintegrating society. 



Emerson’s estimate, that one-half of man is expression, becomes 
even truer if one realizes that this is mainly dramatic expression: in- 
deed that his whole history is essentially a psychodrama, or rather a 
series of such collective dramas. Man is never so fully himself as when 
^e is acting a part: when he is transforming the raw materials of life 
into art. Similarly, men are never such sorry creatures as when they 
have reached the end of one drama and find themselves without any 
part: each the undistinguished member of an aimless crowd of un- 
employed people. In such a state, only one thing can save the lost in- 
dividual or his society: a new drama. When they are unwilling to 
throw themselves into this task they will seek a substitute in one-di- 
mensional salvation: salvation by correct diet or by right posture or 
by dream-analysis or by orgasms. 

Western civilization has now plainly come to a point where all the 
processes of disintegration and barbarism I have been abstractly de- 
scribing are fully in view: the faceless and heartless man, the gangster, 
the connoisseur of violence who has devaluated everything about life 
except the instruments for defacing it, the inventors of the extermina- 
tion camp, the agents and potential practitioners of random violence 
who devise H-bombs and biological instruments of genocide: all these 
are not merely in our midst but they include supposedly honorable and 
intelligent members of our society: the final proof of our extreme de- 
basement. The processes of negation they have set in motion threaten 
to bring ruin to what is left of our civilization: carrying destruction 
over wider areas, and hastening its pace more effectively than ever 
before, precisely because we have placed all the highest capacities of 
scientific abstraction at the disposal of moral imbeciles and psychotics. 
In this manner the drama of the machine will come to an end: if it 
goes a scene further, there will not even be corpses left on the stage. 

But what has happened in history before, may happen again: after 
disintegration, renewal. If that were not so it would be foolish to waste 
one’s time considering alternatives to' the catastrophe that is already 
so close to us. ^‘Each age is a dream that is dying and one that is com- 
ing to birth”; and if the stench of a universal extermination camp now 
hangs prospectively over the planet, the possibility of a new life-drama 
has also appeared. We may not be spared the last act of disintegration: 
handcuffed together, the Automaton and the Id may march to their 
common doom. But already the script for a new play — or at least the 
synopsis — ^has been written and the new scenery and props are already 
in the wings. We have now, as a means of survival and a prelude to 

the drama of renewal 


our further development, to throw ourselves into a new drama, in which 
elements of the human personality that have been repressed or mu- 
tilated by older institutions will form the core of a new synthesis. 

Against the domination of the machine, we shall restore fresh energy 
to the word and the dream: we will bring forth ideal projects, plans.^ 
dramas, related to the whole personality, and to the community that 
sustains it and enhances it. Whereas the mark of the machine age was 
the dehumanization of man, the new age will give primacy to the per- 
son, so that ethics and the humane arts will dominate politics and 
technics. Many of these changes and transformations have long been in 
process. Our present task is to identify the emergent elements and to 
find a method, open to each of us, for bringing them together. In this 
process, much that is merely new we must be ready to reject; and 
much diat is old will still prove of service. 


If the present diagnosis is correct, modem civilization cannot be suf- 
ficiently improved to escape disintegration by forms of science and 
politics and religion that now actively prevail: in all these domains a 
new orientation must be conceived, and more positive modes of action 
provided. Out of the division of peoples and races, we must create 
unity: out of the separation of classes and cultures, we must create 
common goals that will unite them, without permitting any permanent 
state of dominance and inferiority: out of intellectual specialization, 
we must create synthesis; finally, by overcoming the long-maintained 
hiatus between the subjective and the objective world, we must create 
a new person, who is at one with nature, and a new concept of nature, 
which does full justice to the person. 

With the insights and the methods that are now in use, such a deep 
organic transformation in every department of life is inconceivable, 
except by slow piecemeal changes. Unfortunately, such changes, even 
if they ultimately converged on the same goal, are too partial and too 
slow to resolve the present world crisis. Western civilization needs 
something more than a drastic rectification of private capitalism and 
rapacious profiteering, as the socialists believe; something more than 
the widespread creation of responsible representative governments, co- 
operating in a world government, as World Federalists believe; some- 
thing more than the systematic application of science to social affairs, 
as many psychologists and sociologists believe; something more than 



a re-building of faith and morals, as religious people of every creed 
have long believed. Each of these changes might be helpful in itself; 
but what is even more urgent, is that all changes should take place in 
an organic inter-relationship. The field for transformation is not this 
^^.or that particular institution, but our whole society: that is why only 
a doctrine of the whole, which rests on the dynamic intervention of 
the human person in every stage of the process, will be capable of di- 
recting it. 

On piecemeal terms, such a change is impossible: indeed incon- 
ceivable: so those who know no other method of approach are, if they 
be honest, corroded with cynicism and despair. But those who come 
to our present disorders with such limited expectations of surmount- 
ing them are like the pathetic armchair admirals in the United States 
Navy in the early stages of our conflict with Japan: these individuals 
predicted that the conquest of Japan would take at least ten years, 
since they could conceive no other way of effecting it than by captur- 
ing each island base, one by one, from the Caroline Islands upward. 
As long, indeed, as we cling to the present piecemeal method of attack, 
our problems will remain largely insoluble, unless we allow such a 
span of time for their working out that the crisis we now face would be 

But one of the reasons our society has become so incapable of con- 
trolling the automatic processes it has set in motion, is that its most 
potent and reliable method of thought has been basically at fault. 
Primitive man mistakenly treats things as if they were persons: but 
modern man treats persons as if they were things ; and that is perhaps 
an even more dangerous superstition. The primitive’s habit of mind 
at least did justice to the potentialities for life which matter, even in 
its less organized forms, actually possesses. But the modern bias re- 
duces higher functions to lower ones, misinterprets as external events 
alone the processes of integration and development, and offers no clue 
to the nature of an organic transformation, which pervades the whole 
at the very moment that it brings about critical changes in the part. 

Up to now, the closest that Western thinkers have come to a philoso- 
phy of the whole, capable of doing justice to the nature of organisms, 
societies, and human personalities, has been in the Marxian doctrine 
of dialectical materialism: especially as that doctrine was expounded 
by Friedrich Engels. What was important in this conception was cer- 
tainly not Marx’s vulgar materialism: what was important was the 
original Hegelian conception of the organic unity of natural and so- 



cial processes, in their continuous evolution and transformation. This 
unity underlies even conflicts between the dominant forces of society, 
since each resolution of thesis and antithesis in turn produces a syn- 
thesis which reconciles their claims in a new emergent pattern. What 
success Marxism has actually had in the world has been partly due to 
the confidence and resolution that the very idea of such a possibility^ 
of unity gives to the believer: in that respect it rivals Islam as a reli- 
gious doctrine. 

Unfortunately, in suppressing the Hegelian part of its heritage, with 
its emphasis on subjective forces and ideas, Marxism gave rise to as 
great a distortion as the non-organic, piecemeal view of the life-process 
given by post-Newtonian science. In addition, the very conception of 
the dialectic process itself is too limited to account for all types of 
change: Marxism does not do justice to non-dialectic changes, like 
maturation: it takes no account of the processes of de-building and 
disintegration, which often fail to produce any reactive change in the 
opposite direction: above all, it has no place for freedom, that essen- 
tial attribute of personality: for Marx limited freedom, in so many 
words, to ‘‘the conscious recognition of necessity.” Hence Marxism has 
no theory to account for its own corruption, though the stench of that 
corruption in Soviet Russia is the most signal manifestation of Marx- 
ism today. 

Even if one added Hegelian idealism to Marxian materialism to 
form a theoretic whole, Marxism would be an inadequate doctrine; 
for the reason that it makes the processes of history external to human 
choice and plan, and buries the person in society. Instead of under- 
standing that the person is a higher emergent from the community, 
Marxism personifies the community and endows its leaders alone with 
the true attributes of persons: this is in fact a regression to the theol- 
ogy of the Egyptian pharaohs, for whose personal enhancement a 
whole society worked and slaved. The tributes offered to Stalin on his 
seventieth birthday did in fact endow him with every attribute of God- 
head. Meanwhile dialectical materialism has been transformed in the 
USSR into a system of totalitarian compulsion, in which the ruling 
classes protect themselves from the challenge and struggle inherent 
in the dialectic process itself by holding that they have arrived at per- 
fect and ’final truth. This “truth” may of course change from year to 
year as a matter of expediency; but the Stalinist Marxian denies the 
validity of any rival form; despotic fiat takes the place here of co- 
operative verification and correction. 



Far from creating dynamic unity and synthesis, this dialectical sys- 
tem, despite Engels’s original effort to make it organic, creates a static 
monolithic body of dogma: insulated from criticism and from the 
challenge of rival ideas. Even worse, it creates a dualistic theology, 
with a special God, ^'‘communism,” and a new devil, capitalism. This 
"^theology becomes all the more quaint because communism has been 
transformed, in the course of a generation, into a full-fledged fascist 
system, marked by the absolute control of a single party, by compul- 
sion and terror as normal adjuncts of government, by the abject wor- 
ship of the Leader, and by a paranoid isolationism; whereas in almost 
every country capitalism has been steadily modified by an influx of 
socialist measures which equalize wealth, distribute power to the work- 
ers, guarantee economic security, and promote human welfare: in short 
provide many of the tangible benefits promised by communism with- 
out abolishing political and intellectual freedom. 

The time has come, therefore, for a more profound transformation 
than the purely materialistic conceptions of revolution could envisage. 
The present crisis calls for an axial change in our whole system of 
thinking and in the social order based on it. Deliberately, I use the 
word ‘‘axial” in a double sense, meaning first of all that there must 
be a change in values, and further a change so central that all the 
other activities that rotate around this axis will be affected by it. Such 
a change must be based on a fuller understanding of human life, in all 
its dimensions, than the naive philosophies of romanticism and social- 
ism or any other form of eutopianism were able to entertain. The new 
philosophy will treat every part of human experience, from the en- 
during structure of the physical world to the briefest incarnation of 
divinity, as an aspect of an inter-related and progressively integrating 
whole. It will restore the normal hierarchy of the organic functions, 
placing the part at the service of the whole, and the lower function at 
the command of the higher: thus it will establish once more the primacy 
of the person, and the function of man himself as the interpreter and 
director — ^not the passive mirror and ultimate victim — of the forces 
that have brought him into existence. 


So far the best insight into the creative factors in history comes from 
an almost forgotten memoir by the great physicist, James Clerk Max- 
well. In this letter, following up a mathematical clue first traced by 



Babbage and Boole, he sets forth his doctrine of Singular Points, Clerk 
Maxwell observed that science is organized to study continuities and 
stabilities ; and selects by preference those fields where these attributes 
are significantly dominant. But even in the physical world, he adds, 
there are unpredictable moments when a small force may produce, not^^ 
a commensurate small result, but one of far greater magnitude . . . 
‘‘the little spark which kindles the great forest, the little word which 
sets the whole world a-fighting, the little scruple which prevents a man 
from doing his will.” 

“Every existence above a certain rank,” Maxwell continues, “has 
singular points: the higher the rank, the more of them. At these points, 
influences whose physical magnitude is too small to be taken account 
of by a finite being may produce results of the greatest importance. All 
great results produced by human endeavour depend on taking advan- 
tage of these singular states when they occur.” And Maxwell goes on 
to quote Shakespeare’s famous passage from Julius Caesar about a 
tide in the affairs of men which, taken at its flood, leads on to for- 
tune. At such moments that which is impossible on any common-sense 
calculation, may not merely become thinkable but enactable; whereas 
predictions based on regularities, continuities, stabilities, also observ- 
able in the same society and usually sufficient for its description, would 
prove misleading as a guide to decisive action or as a clue to future 
tendencies. What informed Roman observer, as late as the second 
century A.D., could have believed that his great empire would be taken 
over, from top to bottom, by the followers of an obscure Galilean 
prophet, hardly known by name to the educated? 

'^at follows from this doctrine? As regards all that touches the 
thousand routine functions of society, with its mass movements and 
its mass organizations, Maxwell’s observation remains inoperative for 
the greater part of their history: to keep even the meanest community 
going from day to day calls for an enormous mass of repetitive ef- 
fort, putting brakes on dangerous tendencies, speeding remedial ac- 
tions, bringing about detailed reforms and improvements. The doc- 
trine of Singular Points coimtenances no suspension of these daily 
needs and fulfillments: no putting off of the numerous concrete tasks 
needed to support the life of the community: no passive waiting around 
for the great moment that will bring about some different constellation 
of forces. Indeed, Maxwell’s doctrine presumes the existence of these 
regularities and continuities. 



But Maxwell adds something both to the scientific description of 
social change and the life of any society that may be so described. 
For he points out that at intervals, at critical moments in crises, a sup- 
plementary method of inciting change may be a decisive one, particu- 
-^larly if its importance is recognized and the nature of the moment it- 
self correctly interpreted. At such a pass, the human personality may 
produce an effect out of all proportion to its physical powers, just as a 
tiny seed-crystal, dropped into a saturate solution, may cause the whole 
mass to assume a similar crystalline form. Such timely intervention of 
a ‘‘physical magnitude too small to be taken account of by a finite be- 
ing” may produce an effect equivalent to a cumulative and widespread 
change accomplished by a much greater expenditure of effort through 
the normal channels of social change. 

This doctrine accounts for the major operations of personality in his- 
tory: it likewise accounts for the rareness of these occasions. Even when 
such a change is brought about, however, it must be confirmed and car- 
ried through by the same forces that operate through institutional 
mechanisms from day to day. (In terms of our sociological schema the 
personal processes of formulation and incarnation must be followed 
through by the social processes of incorporation and embodiment.) 
In both cases, we are dealing with natural events, operating on the 
plane of history: one proceeds by an accumulation of small changes: 
the other by a singular change that irradiates through and transforms 
the whole society. 

Maxwell’s doctrine, now confiirmed by physical research, casts a 
further light on the means by which a new type of personality, Con- 
fucian, Buddhist, Christian, Mohammedan, Marxian, gathers to itself 
suflScient power to overcome the normal resistances to wholesale change 
that every society exhibits. At moments of crisis, where the roads to 
disintegration or to development separate, as on a watershed, a single 
decisive personality, or a small group of informed and purposeful 
men, may by a slight push determine the direction and movement of an 
otherwise uncontrollable mass of conflicting social forces. At such mo- 
ments not a single institution or group, but a whole society, will be in- 
volved in a change far beyond its ordinary capacities for adaptation: 
yet the dynamic agent in this transformation, the “spark which kindles 
the great forest,” will be the individual human person; for it is he 
who precipitates the change in the social order by first initiating a 
profound re-grouping of forces and ideal goals within himself. At such 
a moment the human integer represents the whole and in turn has an 



effect on the whole. Only within the compass of the person can a total 
change be effected within the span of a single generation, sufficient to 
produce the necessary effect on civilization at large: like the seed- 
crystal, he passes on to the whole the new order of the part. 

The point to observe is that what science calls “nature” or the “ex- 
ternal world” is partly a projection of the human personality, modified 
by its capacities and its needs and its cultural forms. Instead of begin- 
ning with nature and eliminating, as far as possible, the operations of 
the personality, we must begin with the human personality, as the 
most inclusive and complete of all observable phenomena, since every 
other kind of force and event can be mirrored in it and interpreted 
by it; and we must pay particular attention to those kinds of events 
that are not patent in the more stable and repetitious cycles of nature. 

In taking this position I would recall certain illuminating percep- 
tions of William James, which unfortunately he never sufficiently de- 
veloped in his own philosophy. “The spirit and principles of science,” 
he observed, “are mere affairs of method; there is nothing in them 
that need hinder science from dealing successfully with a world in 
which personal forces are the starting-points of new effects. The only 
form of thing that we directly encounter, the only experience that we 
concretely have, is our personal life. The only complete category of 
our thinking, our professors of philosophy tell us, is the category of 
personality, every other category being one of the abstract elements 
of that. And this systematic denial on science’s part of personality as 
a condition of events, this rigorous belief that in its own essential and 
innermost nature our world is a strictly impersonal world, may, con- 
ceivably, as the whirligig of time goes round prove to be the very de- 
fect that our descendants will be most surprised at in our own boasted 
science, the omission that to their eyes will most tend to make it look 
perspectiveless and short.” (The Will to Believe.) 

The whirligig of time has now gone round. On the ideological basis 
of the person we must now make a fresh start. 

Instead of the self-abdicating view of the post-medieval world, which 
put external nature in a position of dominance, we now give primacy 
to the historic person, with his values, purposes, ideals, ends. As soon 
as we accept this interpretation as the only one that is capable of do- 
ing justice to every aspect of human experience, uniting the inner and 
the outer, the private and the public, as well as the subjective and the 
objective, we have a firm hold upon the whole gamut of human ex- 



perience; for, among other things, we can then give due weight to non- 
repeatable events and to singular moments. 

Much has happened even in science during the last half-century to 
make this change possible. Not the least important observation of 
^Freud’s was the discovery that single events — traumas or injuries — 
that took place in earliest childhood, might leave traces on the human 
personality that would outweigh in their effect a lifetime of habit. 
Though Freud may originally have over-stressed the pervading in- 
fluences of isolated injuries that occurred in childhood, there is little 
doubt that such events, both in childhood and much later, may pro- 
foundly re-shape the personality. Not only a trauma but a benign oc- 
currence may have such a disproportionate effect — a sentence cas- 
ually dropped by a teacher in the midst of a lesson, a single act of 
heroism or generosity or sacrifice, may even without visibly standing 
out in memory operate under the surface and determine a score of 
later events. 

Shall we neglect these occasions because science in the past had no 
place for them in its limited method of interpretation? Shall we deny 
their importance because they are quantitatively insignificant, or be- 
cause they occur in a non-repeatable and unpredictable fashion? No: 
for what holds true for the individual holds likewise for groups and 
communities: in some measure the person operates at every level. Just 
as we know that infinitesimal traces of chemicals, like copper or boron, 
may be vital to organic growth, so mere traces of personality may alter 
the pattern of historic events. 

For the last four centuries man has disciplined himself to achieve a 
view of the external world in which his own wishes and hopes and 
fantasies should play as small a part as possible in coloring the re- 
sults. In consequence of this displacement of the person, he has 
achieved law and order, regularity and predictability, over large tracts 
of external existence: a superb achievement, which redounds to the 
benefit of the human person itself. But now, in order to give full weight 
to every aspect of life and to restore parts of experience that were 
suppressed in this effort to achieve order, man must complement this 
gain in objectivity by creating a new form of subjectivity, one which 
will not infringe in arbitrary fashion on scientific order, but will do 
justice to forces and potentialities that still lie beyond it. 

Not merely does it take a person to understand a person: but one 
must use the categories of personality to understand a lower order of 
life that has begun to partake of the personal. The release of these 



subjective factors may now even be a necessity of survival; for only 
by a recovery of esthetic and moral sensitivity can we escape from 
the maiming brutalities which a cult of the impersonal has imposed 
as a matter of course. 

In any generation, only a few people reach the stature which mak^. 
them capable of dealing with the emergent forces and singular mo- 
ments of history either as interpreters or actors: Burckhardt, Henry 
Adams, Kropotkin, Patrick Geddes, showed such powers in recent 
times on the theoretic side as Gandhi, Wilson, Lenin, and Churchill 
did in action. If the process of de-personalization went on indefinitely 
modern man would give up all possibility of directing and controlling 
the lethal automatisms that have gone along with it. Even now, the 
pervasive present sense of helplessness before a man-created catastro- 
phe has caused many Western men to fall back to the superstitious 
level of a primitive tribe in the face of a volcanic eruption: too awed 
even to flee from the spot. Were Mr Roderick Seidenberg’s analysis of 
this situation correct, there would be no way out. 

So far from accepting that analysis, which projects our present life- 
denying tendencies into an indefinite future, I look forward to a con- 
trary reaction: one which will reclaim for the human personality much 
of the ground that, during the last four centuries, it voluntarily sur- 
rendered. Not neutrality and one-sided objectivity, not impersonality 
and hardness, will be the marks of the new personality. Those traits, 
once sedulously cultivated as “scientific,” are already in fact old- 
fashioned: they perhaps reached their final limit of life-negation and 
life-debasement in the Nazi extermination chambers where once repu- 
table physicians, with high standing in science, subjected their vic- 
tims to endless ingenuities of pseudo-scientific torture. The new per- 
sonality will round out the discipline of the impersonal with the full- 
est expression of sympathy and empathy, with the most exquisite re- 
sponsiveness to all modes of being; with a readiness to embrace life 
in its unity and wholeness, its uniqueness and its freedom and its end- 
less creativity. 

Far from certainly, yet very possibly, Western civilization may be 
on the verge of such a crucial transformation today. A singular mo- 
ment, which may hold incalculable practical consequences, may actu- 
ally be at hand: perhaps, in some far comer of the world, it has al- 
ready taken place, without being reported: for possibly not until long 
after that moment has passed will we have the means of verifying its 



existence — unless indeed the singular point should have a negative 
issue, and lead us to final disaster. 

But if we understand the nature of the personality, and the way 
that it is operative in history — steadily in small increments, intermit- 
t^^ntly in potent quantities — we shall be ready to take advantage of a 
singular point when it occurs. There is even a special touch of encour- 
agement in Maxwell’s dictum that the higher the rank of existence the 
more frequent the occurrence of singular points. 

There can be little doubt that mankind reached such a singular 
point at the end of the Second World War. At that moment an awak- 
ened personality in the presidency of the United States, with enough 
courage and vision to have committed the country unconditionally to 
the principle of responsible World Government, backed by even much 
wider acts of succor and co-operation than unrra and the Marshall 
Plan envisaged, might have led all mankind toward positive peace. 
That effort would by its own inner dynamic have challenged and 
overthrown the fascism and the frightened isolationism of the Krem- 
lin. Such a point may presently occur again: sooner than any calcu- 
lation of probabilities would expect. If we fail to take advantage of 
that second moment, the rest of our voyage may in truth be “bound in 
shallows and in miseries.” 


The ideas and the ideals that will transform our civilization, re- 
storing initiative to persons and delivering us from the more lethal 
operations of automatism, are already in existence: let me emphasize 
this fact. Indeed the very persons who will make critical decisions, 
when a singular moment presents itself, are already, it seems probable, 
alive: it is even possible that a decisive change is already in operation, 
though as thoroughly hidden to us as the future of Christianity was 
to Pontius Pilate. If it were otherwise, the outlook would be black; 
for no change as thoroughgoing as that which will start our civiliza- 
tion on a new dramatic cycle can be effected overnight. 

Just as the upbuilding and de-building forces are continually at 
work in society, so many of the ideas and institutions necessary to 
offset the now obsolete ambitions of “Faustian Man” have long been in 
existence. For at least two centuries a series of new values and goals 
have been projected in this society. Even though they have failed to 
change markedly the course of events, they have served to correct 



some of the distortions caused by a one-sided commitment to Moloch 
and Mammon, the twin deities who would sacrifice life to power, pres- 
tige, and profit. 

Some of these compensating influences have come from su^wiving 
traditions and customs, the debris of civilizations that were kinder to 
the whole man: others represent new social mutations, hardly capable 
of surviving in the existing order, but quite capable of becoming the 
organizing nuclei in a new civilization. The coming together of these 
ideas and ideals, their re-polarization around the concepts of the bal- 
anced man, the self-governing group, and the universal community is 
the first step in syncretism: the forerunner in the mind of a new gen- 
eral pattern of life. 

Let us make a brief canvass of the elements that were repressed by 
the dominant culture of the past century: for they will probably domi- 
nate the coming one, while the forces that have hitherto been upper- 
most, mechanization and quantification, will be incorporated in the 
new society as either recessives or survivals, not entirely lost or neg- 
lected, we shall hope, but subordinated to more vital purposes. 

From the eighteenth century on the chief challenge to the machine 
came from romanticism, for by this time the medieval culture was in 
a state of advanced decay, and the regenerative movement of Protes- 
tantism had in its turn capitulated to capitalism. In protesting against 
this erosion of traditional values, the romantics, led by Jean-Jacques 
Rousseau, sought to imdermine the whole mechanical conception of 
human improvement: significantly Rousseau proclaimed in his first 
dissertation that the arts and sciences themselves tended to corrupt 
morals, as Augustine had held long before. Romanticism, seeking to 
make a fresh start, returned with Vico and Rousseau to a mythical 

In order to reinstate the suppressed vitalities of man, the romantics 
turned their backs on culture and sought nature, unsullied, untouched: 
Rousseau’s nature, not Newton’s. But what they called nature was in 
fact the art and politics and morals of more simple societies: Corsica 
served as well as Polynesia. They found their new ideals in the art 
of the folk ballad, in the politics of the village community, in the 
morals and the life-nurturing activities of the peasant household and 
village, elegiacally recorded by Gray and Goldsmith, dynamically 
espoused by Rousseau, Herder, Scott and their nineteenth century 



Romanticism, thus conceived, was a return to the continuities of his- 
tory, which had been disrupted by the new power ideology of despots 
and centralized organizations; and it was conceived as a protest against 
the utilitarian man, the new ideal type: it reinstated the elements in 
Me that the mechanical ideology left out, spontaneity, impulse, free- 
dom, love: practices that defied repetition and disrupted routine. 

All in all, romanticism made many contributions to a more or- 
ganic conception of human life. Everywhere it introduced an element 
of playfulness and spontaneity into a civilization where the mechan- 
ical discipline of capitalism was adding to the older constraints of 
institutional formalism: it furthered a rustic simplicity in dress, a 
peasant homeliness in cooking, an unaffected directness in manners, 
and above all, a respect for the childlikeness of the child in education, 
and for the lovingness of lovers in marriage. Even in the arts and 
crafts, the romantic emphasis upon the person brought about a restora- 
tion of sound handwork, at a time when the old methods and processes 
were in danger of being cast completely aside. The Kindergarten and 
the Garden Suburb were the supreme embodiments of romantic doc- 

Unfortunately the romantics lacked a general principle of inte- 
gration; for the romantic was so eager for freedom that he was at 
home only in a despotic society of one. But the prophets of roman- 
ticism, from Rousseau to Ruskin, from Herder to Hugo, from Scott 
and Froebel to Walt Whitman and William Morris, brought back into 
Western culture many important elements that had been jettisoned in 
the swift change-over to the machine. Romanticism was an emotional 
oasis in the desert of industrialism: by popularizing the picnic and 
the summer vacation it altered the very rhythm of machine civiliza- 
tion. Its more positive, non-reactionary ideals, the appreciation of 
spontaneity it shares with Taoism, its emphasis on feeling and emo- 
tion and sensibility, its respect for the organic, its affirmation of the 
imaginative arts are all precious and permanent gifts to a balanced 

One of the great contributions of the romantics was the attempt to 
strip life to its essentials: this tendency only carried further an 
afiiliated movement in the historic religions. Though one of the effects 
of science was to close men’s minds to religion, another was to give 
religion a compensatory role; and this led, like the romantic move- 
ment itself, into an attempt to establish continuities with an older and 
deeper past. 


This movement had first taken shape, in Christianity, in reaction 
against thirteenth century capitalism; the first efforts of the Walden- 
sians and the Lollards aimed at a de-materialization of the physical 
symbols and rituals of the Church. This came to a climax in the com- 
prehensive negations, the life-affirming denials, of the Society of. 
Friends. Calvinism, at the same time, gave back to the congregation,'^ 
a group of persons, the initiative that had been lost through the one- 
sided Caesarean organization of the universal Church; and the gen- 
eral political concepts of democracy owe far more to the self-govern- 
ing Churches, which flourished from the sixteenth century on in the 
English-speaking countries, than to the once-democratic self-enclosed 
guilds, which became centers of oligarchic corruption and decay. To 
the Quakers we owe such democratic simplicity as we have achieved 
in clothes, such directness of manners, such absence of empty cere- 
monial, and such mildness and amity as we show in collective delib- 
eration. This survival has still almost the vigor of a mutation: an 
essential contribution to the new personality. 

In other historic religions, similar movements have taken place: 
notably in the purification of Hinduism undertaken by Mahatma 
Gandhi. Gandhi’s translation of religious faith into a working po- 
litical creed, based on the Tolstoyan principles of non-violence and 
the duty of manual labor, were declarations of the primacy of the 
person at the very point where modern man was tempted to minimize 
the impact of personality, and to over-value that of organization. This, 
too, will be one of the formative contributions to the new integration; 
for without the capacity for direct action that Gandhi, above all other 
leaders, showed, we shall be pinned to the ground like Gulliver in 


Along with the romantic and the religious sources of renewal comes 
a third movement that must not be under-rated, for it now constitutes 
an active recessive, if not a dominant, in most parts of Western civili- 
zation. This one may call eutopianism: the belief in the possibility of 
renovating society, through the application of reason and social inven- 
tion to political and economic institutions. 

The central themes of eutopianism were first expressed by Thomas 
More in his Utopia ( 1516 ) ; and they cover every aspect of eutopian- 
ism, from the constitutional reform of governments in order to equalize 



power and further the democratic process, to the just sharing of the 
annual productivity and the accumulated wealth of the community 
by every willing and working member of it. In its faith in invention, 
in its concentration on mass production — ^which means ultimately the 
widest distribution of the product — even modern capitalism shows a 
beneficent eutopian side: so that it was possible for a utilitarian mind 
like Edward Bellamy’s in Looking Backward to look forward to the 
attainment of Eutopia by a general election, which would alter the 
control of industry without altering essentially either the process or the 

Now ours is a planet where the greater part of the population still 
lacks the bare essentials of life: where even in the richest country 
almost a third of the population, some fifty million, live below the 
margin of physical decency, with ramshackle and overcrowded hous- 
ing, a poor diet, insufficient medical care, and grossly inadequate op- 
portunities for education and spiritual development. Hence it should 
be plain that the eutopian movement, which emphasized the impor- 
tance of many functions neglected not only by private capitalism but 
by romanticism and religion, has still a vital part to perform in the 
renewal of life. Those who dodge this fact, by confining renewal to 
an inner change, as if the higher functions could flourish while the 
lower ones were starved and mutilated, overlook the unusual nature 
of their own security and comfort: we who have a more organic phi- 
losophy cannot share such irresponsible, egoistic perfectionism. 

So far from recoiling at communism, because of the current totali- 
tarian perversion of its original life-furthering purposes, we must 
clearly understand that every country, whether nominally agrarian or 
capitalist or socialist, is bound, in support of a life more abundant, 
to seek a progressive equalization of opportunities and goods for all 
its members. De Tocqueville, a staunch conservative, correctly ob- 
served a century ago that this movement toward equalization was the 
guiding principle of the last seven hundred years in Western civiliza- 
tion: it is in fact the essential democracy that underlies other possible 
forms of democracy. Christianity recognized the fundamental equal- 
ity of men in Heaven: eutopianism extends that recognition to the 
earth. The program of socialism has still a considerable distance to 
go, even in such advanced countries as Great Britain, Norway, or 
Sweden, before each citizen will have by right his basic share in all 
the goods of life, as preliminary to whatever else his special talents 
or exertions may bring him. Admittedly, this movement is not free 



from dangers: the dangers of totalitarianism, automatism, purposeless 
materialism, psychological '‘over-protection.” By its unqualified suc- 
cess it might create a universal squirrel cage, occupied by well-fed 
squirrels, too fat and bored even to work the wheel that will ensure 
their continued existence. But those dangers, though already pressin'^ 
in our over-organized technical society, will be diminished under an 
ideology and mode of life that restores the primacy of the person. 

Now the greatest of the repressed components in present civiliza- 
tion I have left to the last: this is universalism. During the nineteenth 
century universalism was expressed in forms that awakened antago- 
nism and resistance in those parts of the world that most heavily felt 
its presence. Religiously, universalism took hold in an increased 
spread of Christian missionary enterprise, continuing a development 
begun first by the Apostles and renewed once more by Francis of 
Assisi in the thirteenth century. Politically, universalism expressed it- 
self in the even more one-sided and arrogant form of imperialism: 
the exploitation of distant lands and peoples for the benefit of investors 
at home and a new class of colonial rulers abroad. Technically, uni- 
versalism meant standardization and uniformity, first in the instru- 
ments of production and finally in all the means of life: eventually in 
the end-products as well. 

Each of these forms of universalism had serious human defects: 
above all a blindness to the values it suppressed and replaced and an 
unwillingness to admit variety and autonomy. If the religious mission- 
ary patronizingly gave without taking, the trader and colonizer rapa- 
ciously took without giving: in the very act of spreading the real goods 
of Western civilization, these representatives contrived to make even 
its virtues odious. The age of exploration and colonization, of the 
steamship and the ocean cable, laid solid foundations for a world 
community: but it was content to erect on these foundations a flimsy 
sheet-iron warehouse, a temporary structure to store raw materials be- 
fore shipment home. Technical universalism provided the basic con- 
ditions of peace, order, and co-operation, but for lack of insight into 
the higher principles involved it presently became lost in the Heart 
of Darkness — to recall Joseph Conrad’s deeply illuminating fable. 

Despite these failures, universalism lies at the very center of a new 
integration of life: the stone defaced by the nineteenth century build- 
ers must now be recut with fresh and true surfaces. Perhaps the most 
significant part of the development of science and technics during the 
last three centuries has been its many universal by-products: a uni- 



versal standard of weights and measures, a universal method, that of 
scientific observation and experiment, and a universal principle of 
association, based on freedom of thought and commimication, and 
voluntary afiiliation under the forms of democracy. The development 
^f international congresses of science and scholarship and religion 
during the nineteenth century were the first steps toward a world par- 
liament: at the great Paris Exposition of 1900, one hundred and 
twenty International Congresses were held. 

Meanwhile, the invention of improved mechanical methods of travel 
and transportation and communication created, for the first time in 
history, an all-embracing community. With the further development 
in the twentieth century of the telephone and the radio — and ultimately 
television — all the inhabitants of the planet could theoretically be 
linked together for instantaneous communication as closely as the in- 
habitants of a village. Indeed, it is conceivable — ^though not at all prob- 
able — that the Sermon on the Mount could now be preached to the 
greater part of mankind at the moment it was uttered, provided such 
a notorious agitator as Jesus of Nazareth could be admitted to studios 
controlled mainly in the interests of commercial advertisers or totali- 
tarian governments, and allowed to speak without submitting a pre- 
pared script. 

So powerful were these universal agents up to 1914, so thoroughly 
in accord were the peoples in the West as to their beneficence, that the 
regressions that subsequently took place through war, nationalism, 
and isolationism were for them almost unimaginable. But those who 
believed in universalism were too little conscious of the arrogance and 
one-sidedness that characterized its premature conquest of the planet: 
the provinciality of its law and order, the failure of humility that 
marked even those who professionally preached the gospel of humility. 
What is worse, the technical and economic forms of universalism were 
pushed much faster than the social habits that would have supported 
a worldwide community: apart from spontaneous local efforts like 
pidgin English, there was little serious effort to create a truly uni- 
versal language for the practical tasks of world intercourse; a lan- 
guage logical, fixed, and brief, like Basic English, but without the 
unconscious provinciality of Messrs Ogden and Richards’s invention, 
with their retention of English words and English sounds, even Eng- 
lish spelling. Esperanto was only a shade better: it preserved the vices 
of a natural language without achieving the grammatical simplicity of 
Chinese or the facile euphony of Hawaiian. The lack of such a uni- 



versal language, in an age that has the technical means of broadcasting 
by short wave from any one spot to any other part of the earth, re- 
duces the efficiency of our powerful machines to a mere fraction of 
their possible maximum. This deep inner contradiction runs through 
all our universal mechanical instruments: and the only thing more 
strange than the fact that it exists is the further fact that so few people 
seem aware of its absurdity. 

What is true in technics holds equally for politics. Though at the 
end of the nineteenth century a first feeble start at creating a body of 
world law and a government capable of framing it and executing it 
was made in the Hague Conference, imperialism and nationalism 
moved in the opposite direction: toward war and conquest: toward 
segregation, non-co-operation, isolation. This general political regres- 
sion reached its climax in the economic autarchy actively practiced 
by Nazi Germany and the New Deal in the United States in the nine- 
teen-thirties, and in the segregation and isolation now hideously vis- 
ible in both Soviet Russia and the South Africa of today. By contrast, 
the old-fashioned imperialism of the nineteenth century was enlight- 
ened and humane in a high degree: for it is more human to exploit 
one’s brother than to deny that he has any claim on one’s attention. 
The failure to create a world government, capable of establishing or- 
der and law, to take the place of force and fear in the relations of 
peoples, brought to an end the spontaneous universalism of the nine- 
teenth century. The War that began in 1914 is therefore, in conse- 
quence, not yet ended. 

The naive form of universalism, as expressed by science and tech- 
nics, no less than by missionary enterprise and imperialism, was itself 
a partial movement. Technical universalism needed the correction of 
eutopianism: a positive concept of justice and mutual aid, to take the 
place of the “white man’s burden,” and an open-minded receptivity 
to the products of other forms of culture, as they seeped into other 
parts of the world, through the efforts of traders and scholars, ex- 
plorers and scientists. Even within the domain of technics, universal- 
ism too easily forgot its debt to other forms of life than its own: the 
fact, for example, that perhaps half of the world’s food crops today 
derive from primitive cultures that had no contact with the West dur- 
ing their great period of plant domestication. Without these crops the 
world would be closer to starvation; without ihe Amazon aborigine’s 
gift of rubber, half our wheels would cease to move. 



The abortive universalism of the nineteenth century was neverthe- 
less a happy beginning: the task of the coming age will be to provide 
it with the human elements it lacked the insight to discover or the 
courage to invent: a universal morality, as a basis of friendly political 
intercourse: a universal language, taught as the second language to 
all children in all schools, to make world communication possible: a 
world government, with a world capital in every continent, transmut- 
ing national struggles and conflicts, which will continue in some form 
to exist, into habits of law and order, of restraint and positive co-op- 
eration: a world citizenship for every human being on the planet, with 
increasing energy and time devoted to travel and intercourse on a 
world scale, and interchange of workers and students between regions 
now ingrown, suspicious, and hostile through their isolationism. To 
supplement a universalism based on mere mechanical uniformity and 
on a breaking down of physical barriers in time and space, we must 
create a universalism based on the spiritual wealth and variety of 
men: their unity in diversity achieved by working together for com- 
mon ends. Out of that may come, in the fullness of time, a truly uni- 
versal religion. 

Through this worldwide unity, the human personality, now sup- 
pressed and deformed by the very agents and organizations it has cre- 
ated, will begin to unfold and expand in all its dimensions: mankind 
will enter upon a higher stage of development. This is the new heaven 
and the new earth that beckon us beyond the disorders of our apoca- 
lyptic age. But only whole men, liberated from the automatism of 
both instinctual and rational organizations, integrated in all their 
functions, will have the vital energy to take part in this drama. By 
building the foundations for such a structure, our generation will in- 
vest the work of the next era with purpose and significance. 


The re-polarization of the existing creeds and ideologies and 
methodologies, which now function at cross-purposes, could take place 
only under one condition: through the appearance of a new concept 
of space and time, of cosmic evolution and human development. 

Such a mutation of ideas has in fact been taking place during the 
last century: particularly during the last generation. One associates 
this dominating concept with the new insights into the nature of the 
organism and of the ecological processes in biology: with the explora- 



tion of the pre-rational and unconscious and self-determined elements 
in human behavior, which makes it possible to include art and reli- 
gion in our total understanding of the nature and destiny of man. Fi- 
nally, one associates the new concept with the emergence of a sociology 
and a philosophy capable of doing justice to every aspect of humar^ 
life, the inner and the outer, the individuated and the associated, the 
symbolic and the practical; that understands both repetitive processes 
and singular moments, causal sequences and purposeful goals. 

Now the new polarizing element is the concept of the person: the 
last term in the development of the organic world and the human com- 
munity. Instead of taking as fundamental such a derivative concept as 
the physical universe, our thought now begins with the agent through 
whose history and development such a concept becomes possible. In 
other words, we begin with man himself, at the fullest point of his 
own development, his emergence into a person: with man as the inter- 
preter of natural events, man as the conservator of meanings and 
values and patterns of life, with man as the transformer of nature, 
and with man, finally, as the projector and planner of new purposes, 
new destinies, not given in nature, man transcending his own creature- 
liness in his forecasts of further creativity. Even in the physical cos- 
mos, considered by itself, the new astronomers and physicists tell us, 
creation may be a continuous process, perhaps the primordial one, 
while what we once regarded as the ‘Veal” world, with its stabilities 
and regularities, may be only a relatively inert residue — ^the detritus of 
this creative process. 

At all events, only when we begin with the person can we fill out 
the blank spaces in our understanding left by the purely causal inter- 
pretations of science. Causal explanation endeavors to understand the 
complex by means of the simple; breaks up the whole to deal with 
the part; treats all Events as determined sequences, as they in fact are 
— once they have taken place. Teleological explanation seeks to under- 
stand processes in terms of goals, the. thread in terms of the pattern, 
the part by its dynamic relation to the whole. So, too, it interprets the 
past with reference to the future, the necessary in relation to the pos- 
sible, the actual as revealed in the potential. From this new standpoint, 
we realize that facts are no more primary than values, that mechanical 
order is no more fundamental than pattern and purpose, and that we 
have not fully understood the cosmos until we have explored all the 
dimensions — ^visible and hidden, actual and potential — of the person. 

Man’s world, as we now conceive it, is a multi-dimensional one, both 



in time and space. To take full account of it, we must include both 
its subjective and objective aspects: not casting aside qualities or pat- 
terns ©r purposes because they are irrelevant when we wish to measure 
the speed of a falling stone or the motion of a planet. Into the person, 
fthe mechanical, the organic, the social all enter: from the person, 
creativity and divinity emerge. To interpret the whole, we must ap- 
proach experience at various levels of abstraction and concretion; only 
by so doing can we even partly grasp its dense, inter-woven, many- 
layered complexity. Even in the physical sciences, from which so many 
essential attributes of organic life are eliminated, there is a molar 
aspect and a molecular one, an astronomic field and an atomic field: 
and between these extremes there are many levels of experience and 
consistent interpretation. When we begin with the person, which in- 
cludes even the most elementary physical phenomena, we penetrate 
life at every level, and reject nothing that is given in human experi- 
ence, even if it appears but once. 

With this new orientation man now resumes the place that he vol- 
untarily abdicated three centuries ago, when Western man overlooked 
his own creative properties and gave precedence to matter, motion, 
quantitative change. The order and continuity man finds in nature, he 
takes to himself, in order to further his own development. Likewise 
the variety and adventure, the creativeness and expressiveness he finds 
in himself, he reads back into nature, with new insights into events 
that remained meaningless when taken in isolation, cut off from their 
final destination. Through the new sense of the organic and the per- 
sonal come the auxiliary notions of dynamic equilibrium and creative 
emergence. There is no phase of knowledge or practical activity that 
will not be affected by this re-establishment of the primacy of the 

Such a polarizing idea, when it takes hold in a society, plays the 
part of the ^‘organizer” in cell growth: it provides the spatial pattern 
and the temporal order through which every activity becomes inter- 
related in a new design. The idea of a physical world from which 
many of the higher operations of personality were excluded, which 
was the very basis of the scientific and industrial civilization of the 
past, was such a polarizer: the progressive dehumanization and anni- 
hilation of man in his conquest of the planet and his exploitation of 
power, was partly the result of this limited concept. In so far as the 
idea of the person does fuller justice to the order of nature and the 
condition of man, it may in the days to come offset the errors of the 

the drama of renewal 


past and lay the basis for a worldwide integration of both thought and 
life. Our machines have become gigantic, powerful, self-operating, 
inimical to truly human standards and purposes: our men, devitalized 
by this very process, are now dwarfed, paralyzed, impotent. Only by 
restoring primacy to the person — ^and to the experiences and disci- 
plines that go into the making of persons — can that fatal imbalance"' 
be overcome. 

The new formulations of organism, community, and personality are 
now increasingly operative in many departments of life: in medicine 
and psychological guidance and education, in community develop- 
ment and regional planning, not least in technics, where an under- 
standing of organisms has enabled the inventor to pass from the lim- 
ited world of pure mechanics to that of organically conditioned mech- 
anisms, such as the electronic calculating apparatus. In human beings 
a dynamic balance is the condition of health, poise, sanity; and faith 
in the creative processes, in the dynamics of emergence, in the values 
and purposes that transcend past achievements and past forms, is the 
pre-condition of all further growth. 




'‘^Know thyself,” the motto written over the Temple at Delphi, is 
one of the most tantalizing admonitions that has ever been addressed 
to man. For there is no part of the world that seems as accessible as 
one’s self; yet that very intimacy has long prevented knowledge of any 
kind from being achieved without the most strenuous and exacting dis- 
cipline. For at the very gateway of such knowledge one discovers an 
obstacle equally intimate: self-love, a protective pride that not merely 
maintains one’s proper self-respect but covers smoothly all one’s weak- 
nesses. To correct that blind spot one must first realize how large a 
patch of the world it hides. To shape a new self one must first know 
the properties of the raw material one must make over. 

In the past there has been a succession of masters of self-knowledge 
whose efforts to come to terms with themselves are still precious to 
those who would follow their trail. One of the first of the great seekers 
was Socrates, the Socrates Plato has set before us. His first concern 
was to divest the self of an unjustified sense of security in the knowl- 
edge it possessed, beginning with the verbal terms it used to express 
that knowledge. If, as Socrates taught, men act on their knowledge, 
and act badly either through ignorance or through false knowledge, 
the way of right living seems plain: for no small part of our defects 
of character, our lapses into sin and crime, could then be traced to 
the meretricious unexamined premises upon which our actions are 

From Socrates’ standpoint, the evil we commit is fundamentally the 
result of our defective thinking, or at least our failure to use fully the 
processes of logic and dialectic in examining the course of our ac- 
tions: we fail to identify or define rigorously the terms we use, like 
justice, love, power, and knowledge itself; and all our choices are 

therefore befouled and obscured. TTaere is a fragment of truth in this 




criticism: the truth that discloses itself particularly to a society that 
is passing beyond the stage of custom, and needs some more intelligent 
and intelligible guide to action than the assurance that ‘‘it has always 
been done.” 

Yet with all of Socrates’ patient examination and self-exposure, I 
cannot recall any point in the Dialogues in which he examines his own 
conduct in relation to his wife, Xantippe, in order to find out why she 
had, in fact, turned out to be such a shrewish bad-tempered woman. 
The answer might have told as much about Socrates as about Xantippe. 
Had Socrates inspected his own behavior, he might have discovered 
that love of knowledge in itself does not automatically produce vir- 
tue: that there is a tendency in all people, including Socrates, to reject 
as irrelevant, indeed, as non-existent, those forms of self-knowledge 
that would lame their pride. None of the classic schools of philosophy, 
in fact, made this discovery: they dreamed that reason could make 
men lead perfect lives, and often had the illusion that this or the other 
philosopher was in fact leading such a life. That insidious pride had 
first to be broken down, before even the wisest soul could come close 
to himself. 

The reason for Socrates’ failure was discovered by another great 
explorer of the soul, Paul of Tarsus. More rigorous in his inquisition, 
Paul discovered that the self, however much it might seem guided by 
intelligence, did not act on purely rational premises nor seek unde- 
viatingly what knowledge established as good: Paul observed that the 
good he supposedly sought he denied by his actions, and that the evil 
he consciously rejected, he did. In short, human conduct is laden with 
ambiguities because the order and purpose and knowledge man de- 
veloped in his post-animal career must contend not merely with ani- 
mal impulses that are now far more unsure and disruptive than they 
ever were at the animal level, but also with perversities that knowl- 
edge itself brings: insolence, a failure to reckon with one’s creature- 
liness, over-confidence in the intellect itself. Knowledge is not enough: 
to achieve self-knowledge one must become as a little child again: 
breaking down the fences of class and caste and role, including the 
fence that encloses a philosopher, and discarding the garments of pride 
that conceal spiritual sores or deformities. The notion that a more 
rational education will cure all the ills of society, if we start early 
enough, fails to reckon with this fact: hence the weakness of every 
program, from that of Robert Owen to that of John Dewey, which 
over-weights the operations of intelligence alone. 



Actually, the rationalist analysis of the self fails in both directions: 
if it refrains from plumbing the lower depths, the processes largely 
insulated against reason and positive knowledge, it also falls short of 
assessing the heights that are possible, by reason of propulsive ener- 
gies also drawn largely from the unconscious, in the very teeth of 
cold-blooded reason: energies that give rise to a self that transcends 
its ordinary limitations, in acts of sacrifice or creative insight. Out of 
the same obscure recesses of the self, where the demonic, degrading 
elements lurk, angels and ministers of grace come forth, making pos- 
sible liberating flights far above the pedestrian levels of conscious 
knowledge, although the trudging intelligence will eventually perhaps 
reach the same heights by slower means. In short, the self holds both 
a hell and a heaven that rationalism, too confident of the powers of 
reason alone, never penetrates. 

In the great period of detachment from the folkways of the Middle 
Ages, when the conventional corporate self, fostered by the Church and 
the guild, no longer was competent to meet life on its new terms, two 
great masters of self-knowledge appeared: Shakespeare and Ignatius 
Loyola: incomparable psychologists both. Loyola knew better than 
most saints the perversions of the self brought about through a too 
wholesale commitment to virtue: he realized better than St Paul that 
contempt for the law of the body might bring about ailments of the 
soul quite as serious as those produced by letting the body have the 
upper hand. 

Long before Loyola, Plato had realized, indeed, that no amount of 
self-analysis can sustain one in virtuous conduct unless one brings 
about constitutional changes in the social order, and provides the, kind 
of education and political institutions that are, in themselves, con- 
ducive to human development. Brought up in the medicine of the Hip- 
pocratic school Plato realized, too, that the spirit was transformed by 
food and gymnastic and medicine: in other words that the self could 
not be detached, even in the pursuit of its highest ends, from the ele- 
mentary organic conditions that govern human existence: it was part 
of a greater whole. 

Loyola accepted this conception of the self and went further: he 
knew that time and place and circumstance likewise alter the self: 
hence one can know the self in its full dimensions only by participat- 
ing in its drama and applying to it, at every moment, a vigilant disci- 
pline. Loyola was perhaps the first psychologist to do full justice to 
all the dimensions of the self: to combine in a single discipline the 

the way and the life 247 

Socratic, the Hippocratic, and the Pauline observations on the nature 
of man. The failure of secular education to understand the nature and 
value of his Spiritual Exercises, and to adapt them to the science and 
culture of our own day, is a witness of the superficiality of both' psy- 
chology and education during the last three centuries.* The recasting 
of these exercises will, perhaps, be one of the signs of our capacity 
to transcend the automatisms of both archaic tradition and current 

Fortunately, more powerful aids to the study of the self have come 
into existence: they make possible new disciplines and new directions. 
Consider briefly two such forms of analysis, one directed inward, the 
other outward: Dr Sigmund Freud’s analysis of the dream and Mat- 
thias Alexander’s analysis of posture. I put these two contrasting 
methods of examination and diagnosis side by side, not because Alex- 
ander’s work is comparable with Freud’s in significance, but because 
they thus emphasize an important point about the organic knowledge 
of the self: namely, that one can approach self-knowledge from either 
the outside or the inside, by way of the body or by way of tlie mind, 
and provided that one pushes far enough one will find the unrepre- 
sented portions reappearing in the full description. 

Alexander’s approach to the self begins with the human body as the 
outward manifestation of every inward tendency. He himself was cut 
short in his chosen career as an elocutionist by his developing a per- 
sistent harshness of voice. By careful mirror-analysis of his method 
of speaking, he discovered that his habits of holding his head, de- 
pressing his diaphragm, and constricting his larynx were responsible 
for the final symptoms in his vocal cords. By consciously altering the 
relation of the head to the spinal column he corrected his ailment; and 
his success with himself led to similar efforts at diagnosis and correc- 
tion in others. Since we have abundant evidence to show that in many 
cases psychological interpretation has removed physical symptoms 
there is no reason to doubt that the reverse method of approach, cor- 
recting the psyche J)y means of studied bodily readjustments, may be 
equally effective. 

To become conscious of how one stands, how one walks or stoops 
or sits, may disclose inner tensions and contractions: the first move 
toward their conscious release. Such revelations may be just as hard 

* In 1944, in a class on the Nature of Personality at Stanford University, I made 
an experimental approach to this problem; but my withdrawal from university 
duties brought this prematurely to an end. 




to accept as the grimmest pictures of distorted impulses the psycho- 
analyst exposes; for eventually one must face, not just the outer symp- 
tom hut the inner source. 

Freud approached the self by a more devious inner route. By means 
of his analysis of dreams Freud and his followers reached areas of the 
self that had been neglected in more rational methods of analysis: 
the most primitive impulses, the most infantile memories and practices, 
the most deeply covered-over scars, disclosed themselves under the 
symbolism of the dream and threw light on large active areas of the 
personality that displayed themselves in daily life. The existence qf 
tliis primeval layer of the self, the id, the unmodified, unsocialized 
‘“^it,” partly accounted for botli the irrational and the pre-rational char- 
acteristics of the person: it was, as it were, a dungeon in which the 
discarded selves of the race lived on, claiming much of the food and 
drink that might have nourished the inhabitants of the castle above. 

Those accustomed to the hygienic practices of the nineteenth cen- 
tury, sure that men were moved by pleasure and pain, or by enlight- 
ened self-interest, found it hard to accept the existence of these age- 
old prisoners of the unconscious, who sometimes made sudden raids 
into the upper floors, to rape or slay the inhabitants, only to scramble 
back again, cowed and cringing before the authority of the ego, to 
rattle their chains or to fill the night air with obscene curses. 

Whitman, picturing himself as stuccoed over with beasts and rep- 
tiles, had anticipated this discovery in his Song of Myself: but Freud 
spelled it out in dream after dream. Fantasy and dream, hitherto dis- 
carded by the more rational approaches to self-understanding, threw 
a new light, not merely on the waking moments of the individual, but 
on the whole collective development of the race. One had to reckon 
with the forces of the id if one were* to do justice to the aspirations of 
the super-ego: the dark prisoners themselves needed, not the chains 
and straitjacket, but sympathetic understanding and guidance: large 
areas of the primitive, to change the figure, could be redeemed, once 
one took possession of this unknown country, as the jungle itself has 
been turned into plowland: “Where id was,” as Freud himself put it, 
“there shall ego be”; and one may add, to correct Freud’s hostility to 
the super-ego, where ego is there super-ego shall be. 

The organic pictui'e of the self that is now available, when one puts 
together the data of physiology and psychology and sociology, has the 
dimensions of both depth and extension that were hitlierto lacking. If 
die id unites man with his animal ancestors, the super-ego unites him 



with his historic social heritage, that is, with the super-organic and 
ideal worlds he possesses in partnership with other men. Despite 
Freud’s rejection of organized religion, he re-discovered the doctrine 
of original sin in his theory of the Oedipus complex; and he fe-in- 
stated, in modern terms, the therapeutic practices of the Christian 

Unfortunately Freud made the mistake of letting absolution follow 
unconditionally from the confession itself and refused to take on the 
priestly role of guidance. This meant that he and his followers pro- 
jected their own unexamined set of values and devaluations upon their 
patients, under the guise of scientific neutrality. But the practical gifts 
of analytical psychology, which derive unmistakably from Freud’s 
genius, outweigh its ideological defects. 

On the basis of the essential knowledge first revealed by Freud, 
various short-cuts to the examination of the self have now been effected. 
One of the most notable of these is the extremely sensitive form of 
psychodiagnostics, devised by Rorschach and perfected by his fol- 
lowers: a method that reveals, as even the elaborate Freudian analysis 
does not, the bodily as well as the intellectual and emotional com- 
ponents of the self. This method of analysis is almost comparable to 
the invention of scale maps for the description and further exploration 
of the terrestrial globe: it not merely enables the observer to chart 
familiar territory more accurately, but it brings into view undiscovered 
land in related areas. 

The success of the Rorschach ink-blot interpretation is due to the 
fact that at every moment in his life the person is projecting himself 
and transforming every part of the world he sees and touches, leaving 
some trace of his personality on all that he does, recording his frus- 
trations if not his controls and expressions. There will doubtless be 
further refinements on the Rorschach method: the Murray-Morgan 
Thematic Apperception Tests bring out other areas of the personality, 
often indicating more fully immediate stresses and strains. In addi- 
tion, the projectives techniques may be applied further, not in a static 
record, but in a dynamic interaction, as J. L. Moreno has demonstrated 
in the psychodrama, in an effort to combine insight with guidance and 
positive therapy, in a series of dramatic scenes, enacted by the subject. 

Each of these methods is a kind of mirror; and the best method, I 
have no doubt, will be a combination of many mirrors, which will re- 
veal the self from every side: both the partly visible self, as photo- 
graphed and diagnosed by constitutional psychologists like Sheldon, 



and the partly invisible self, as revealed in the Rorschach blot or the 
psychodrama. One may even look forward to a time when it will be 
as commonplace to possess such an objective psychological picture of 
oneself with all its wealth of inner detail as to have a snapshot. That 
will be an important instrument of self-direction and self-education; 
though it will require guides and interpreters of a higher order than 
have yet appeared. 

^ We may begin with the process of self-knowledge at any level: with 
the discriminating assessment of sin (Loyola), with an analysis of 
speech habits and meanings (Korzybski), with an interpretation of 
dreams (Freud) or ink blots (Rorschach) or pictures (Murray-Mor- 
gan) : with an examination of posture (Alexander) or a participation 
in a psychodrama (Moreno): with a comparative study of civiliza- 
tions (Toynbee, Kroeber, and Sorokin) or a comparative study of 
primitive cultures (Malinowski and Mead). 

Any one of these methods, if treated organically and carried far 
enough, must in time foreshadow and embrace the findings in every 
other department; since even the masks of the self are part of the in- 
dividual and the collective act that it puts on: episodes in the larger 
drama of a culture. Only those who have achieved self-knowledge and 
are constantly seeking both to enlarge it and apply it in their daily 
living, are capable of overcoming their automatic reactions and reach- 
ing their own ideal limits. Hence the achievement of this wider knowl- 
edge is an essential basis for ethical development: indeed the basis of 
any sound education. In future, the school that neglects to provide 
teaching and guidance in these departments will be recognized as even 
more deeply defective than one that neglects to teach reading and 

But note: there are certain aspects of the human personality that 
no present system of diagnostic completely embraces, and no future 
one in all probability will be able to encompass. For the self is no 
fixed entity: an essential part of it is revealed only in action through 
time; and except in those parts of the personality that have been defi- 
nitely crippled, it is impossible to expose every human limitation or 
potentiality before time has ripened it. In physical illnesses, patients 
not seldom recover from diseases eminent doctors have pronounced 
incurable or fatal; and similar mistakes will doubtless be disclosed 
in reading human character, even after psychologists have made a 
sufficient sample of ‘^normal” personalities to discover how many such 
people have case histories almost identical with those who have sue- 



cumbed to grave mental disorders. Those who wish to qualify as 
guides, must do so under the constant discipline of humility — on 
guard against the cockiness that scientific knowledge, by reason of its 
very triumphs, promotes. 

The effect of self-inquisition should enable one to understand one- 
self and to do justice to oneself: that is, to correct one’s blind drives, 
to overcome one’s partialities and unconscious distortions, to estab- 
lish a dynamic equilibrium, to release the latent potentialities which 
either outside pressures or failures of insight have kept in check. Self- 
knowledge is essential to the cultivation of that kind of humility out 
of which effective co-operation and mutual aid are bom: it is the anti- 
dote to self-righteousness, to excessive self-esteem, to arrogant self- 

All this is true for both the individual and the collective self. So 
the American who understands the historic errors made by our fore- 
bears in displacing the Indian and enslaving the Negro cannot, with- 
out also a chastening self-correction, condemn the masters of Russia 
for liquidating the bourgeoisie and enslaving the opponents of its 
regime so ruthlessly: but by the same token, a Russian who understood 
that his government deliberately committed against economic classes 
and rival systems of thought crimes of the same order that other na- 
tions have committed against races, would realize how lacking in es- 
sential humanity and justice his method of installing a new social sys- 
tem has been. 

Without an adequate self-knowledge, without searching exposure, 
without a consequent positive effort toward self-transformation in per- 
son and group, the forces that now threaten to barbarize or exterminate 
mankind can hardly be overcome. Such knowledge alone can save us 
from the paralysis of complacent routine, and provide sufficient stim- 
ulus to unearth the hidden or unrealized potentials of life — for each 
of us is but an embryo of the self that may one day be brought to 
birth. Thus the Socratic injunction, Know yourself, the Aristotelian , 
injunction, Realize yourself, the Christian injunction, Repent and re- 
new yourself, the Buddhist injunction, Renounce yourself, and the 
Humanist injunction, Perfect yourself are each and all partial but 
essential recognitions of the fact that the final goal of human effort 
is man’s self-transformation. All our ceaseless daily efforts to carry] 
forward civilization will fail, unless we re-inslate this human goal: 
for it is toward the making of persons that all these preliminary ac- 
tivities tend. 




Each one of us is like Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus: at 
any moment we may be struck by a blinding light and hear a voice, 
"^'a voice that will tell us what we already know: that much bf our pres- 
ent life is actually hateful to us, that many of the impulses we have 
suppressed and reviled, in order to conform to the fossilized or decay- 
ing institutions of our time, are precisely those impulses that should 
be respectfully heeded and obeyed. We know that the destination of 
this society, unless it changes its mind, is death: the death of purpose- 
less materialism and sophisticated barbarism, or the more insidious 
death of ^‘post-historic man,’’ the simulated life of automatons, oper- 
ating in a collective process that has passed out of human control. 
And just as for the early Christians the gods of classic civilization be- 
came the demons of the emerging one, so for us, the dominant pseudo- 
progressive elements in our present society constitute our danger, 
while the suppressed impulses, weak and shadowy though they now 
seem, the dreams of love and brotherhood, the will to create a uni- 
versal society of friends, alone hold promise of salvation. 

When that light strikes us we may still, in all humility, falter: it is 
easier to acknowledge a new truth than to find a method for fulfilling 
it. So the question for each of us is how he will take hold of himself: 
not merely what he will think, but how he will act and what he will 
do, in order to bring about in himself, at least partly, the changes that 
will finally transform society and make possible new forms of life. 
Before a new structure can be built, we must first clear the ground for 
it: this means that we must throw off much of the burdensome appa- 
ratus of our present life: we must break the prevailing images, aban- 
don the glib routines and empty ceremonies: challenge the existing 
ideological archetypes, and return, as near as possible, to the naked 
person: alone with his cosmic over-self. 

In this field, each of us is a learner and a novice: so let me drop 
for a moment into an I-and-Thou relation with the reader, to empha- 
size the fact that every suggestion I put before him is meant as much 
for myself as for him. 

The first step, then, is withdrawal and rejection, a course that may 
bring poverty^ hardship, sacrifice; certainly it demands a readiness to 
accept insecurity — ^though security naturally has become the obsession 
of our disintegrating culture. Those who seek to take part in this trans- 



formation, even if their rejection does not take the heroic form shown 
by a Thoreau or a Peguy, a Van Gogh or a Schweitzer or a Gandhi, 
will still have to devise disciplines and exercises that will confirm their 
detachment from the prevalent customs and restore initiative, once 
more, to the human •soul. From my own experience I can testify that 
this is hard counsel: the world is too much with us and too easily we ® 
lay waste our powers. 

Do not be unduly alarmed: withdrawal makes no public demands. 
In large part, it will consist of little undramatic acts, hardly visible 
even to your closest associates, concealed perhaps from your wife or 
your husband or your bosom friend: indeed, it will he hard at first to 
convince yourself that anything so quiet, so modest in dimensions, so 
unpublicizable, could help bring about a profound change. Yet this 
very chastity and insignificance is perhaps what indicates it to be a 
major break, entirely out of the style of our existing society. Epi- 
curus’s injunction, Hide yourself, is the first move toward having an 
inner life: something that will ultimately be worth showing. 

The first impulse of many people, when they perceive the need for 
a social change, is to sign a pledge, to fill out a blank, to enter a sub- 
scription, to join a party: thus they become visibly a member of a 
group that will perform what the individual seeks to avoid doing by 
himself, or even doing at all. The hundreds of organizations and asso- 
ciations that function in a big metropolis bear witness to this impulse: 
in large numbers they are merely mechanisms of vicarious atonement, 
for actions unperformed. What I suggest here, as a first step toward 
integration, is just the opposite of this: withdrawal from extraneous 
activities, as the first step toward conscious, directed, passionate com- 
mitment and participation. The loneliness of this original move is part 
of its discipline. 

The prime purpose of withdrawal is to find yourself, to establish a 
fresh starting point. You must answer the questions: What am I and 
where am I? Why am I doing what I do, and why, despite my many 
deliberate convictions, do I omit to do so much that I should do? 
Without that act of detachment one must remain only an appendage 
of a household, an office, a school, a factory, a party, a guild, a nation. 

Once you begin to use your detachment for self-examination, which 
is the next step, you will be surprised to find out how much of your 
life has been covered over by conventional routine, and how little arises 
out of felt needs, clear convictions, intelligible and communicable pur- 
poses : you have lost the surety of the wild animal’s reflexes only to sue- 



cumb to a series of social reflexes, quite as blind and as fatal to self- 
development. But if you are entirely candid with yourself, as unspar- 
ing as Melville’s Pierre tried to be, you will find something worse and 
better than you had taken for granted. Better because even if you are 
past your nonage you will still find traces of many possible nodes of 
^growth that remain unbudded: potentialities that the best men and 
women recently found for themselves, for example, even in late mid- 
dle life, only under the strange new exactions of total war: the ability 
to take responsibility, to break through the barriers of class and cus- 
tom: to face danger, torture, death. 

But there will be dismaying discoveries, too, even in the happiest 
of lives: there perhaps worst of all. You will find that success in your 
vocation, a comfortable income and a smooth-running household, all 
the felicities that seemed to offer great reward when they were beyond 
reach, have become dust and ashes, or at least obstacles to further 
growth, once they are attained. If you dig deeper, you may find worse: 
in yourself are the aggressions that you find so disruptive in other 
men, in your own heart are the lusts and infidelities that would be so 
disturbing if they came to light in your married partner: there is 
scarcely a crime that you have not committed in your mind, or become 
an accessory to in your imagination. “Every man bears within him- 
self the germs of every human quality,” Tolstoy remarked; and if 
you are honest you will think better of evil men, because you are their 
very brother, and worse of your own goodness, which is stained with 
so much patent or repressed evil. That inner inspection ends all com- 
placency, all self-righteousness. 

Most men, Thoreau observed at a far more favorable moment in 
Western culture than this, live lives of quiet desperation. Before they 
are thirty they have a sense of being caught; and they lack both the 
energies and the tools to extricate themselves from the debris they have 
allowed to block their return to life. Deficiency of life, and because 
of that deficiency an almost unendurable boredom, hangs over our 
civilization: the mechanism busily purrs and ticks; but the days of 
the favored groups and classes are empty as a handless clock. The 
dumb mass of men, preoccupied with the struggle for existence, do not 
lack an immediate purpose; but their existence is cursed by the same 
ultimate sense of futility. 

While our individual acts often make sense, the whole plan of life 
in which we are involved has become senseless and unrewarding: men 
dream of rocket flights to the moon, stereotyping and extending their 



typical present activities, because they mistakenly attribute signifi-^ 
cance to mere motion or change of position, or because, after all, they 
wish to escape. But in fact, the more they move the more they stand 
still — indeed slip backward into the non-human. Radio and gambling, 
cocktails and promiscuous fornication, soporifics and aphrodisiacs, 
television and motor trips and sports, preferably sports that threateif 
loss of limb, are all the fillers-in of deficient forms of life: witnesses 
to the disruption of the family, the renunciation of parenthood, the re- 
treat from citizenship, the failure of education to make whole persons. 

To the extent that we have accepted our mechanical apparatus as a 
substitute for man’s more vital and human activities, we have accepted 
this depletion, staleness, emptiness: so that even in our amusements, 
we make a ritual of mechanical repetition — ^the very condition that 
menaces freedom, spontaneity, growth. 

As our inner selves diminish, our very self-confidence naturally dis-^ 
appears. We ask a thousand minute questions about the mechanisms 
and the institutions that surround us: the one question we do not dare 
to ask is: What is our true nature? What are our own desires? What 
demands would a more human plan of life make? No small part of 
our energy goes into patchwork repairs and piecemeal reforms, be- 
cause we have taken all the dominant tendencies in our civilization as 
fixed. For lack of any positive vision of life and health, the best that 
we can dream of is security — absence of want, absence of disease, 
absence of fear, absence of war, as if by adding these negations to- 
gether we could create a valid substitute for life. 

This is why the first step toward a better life involves a recovery 
of inner autonomy. To this end we must recognize the pragmatic im- 
portance of dream and ideal: they must ’be tended and minded with 
the care we now give only to motor cars or airplanes. This notion has 
all but disappeared in the United States and is passing out of fashion 
everywhere, the more people submit to the forces of externalization: 
objectifying their emptiness. . . . Once I had the good fortune 
to hold a seminar for a group of educators: men and women thor- 
oughly trained in the use of their tools, most of them doctors of phi- 
losophy, people who had already achieved eminence in their profes- 
sion or were on the way to it. I asked them how many spent as much 
as half an hour a day in complete solitude, with no outside interrup- 
tion. Most of them confessed that they had never even considered the 
need for such a period: if by rare accident they fell upon such an 
empty hour, they felt obliged to ^Mo something” with it; as busy 

1 * 



and discipline imposed by the school often is an active source of their 
maladjustment and unhappiness: for no one can give himself fully to 
a task if his ear is half-cocked for the signal that will compel him 
to abandon it. 

In a purely negative, defensive way, the industrial worker, during 
^e past half-century, has learned collectively to practice the slow- 
down in work: sometimes taking his revenge on those concerned with 
efficiency and profit by not even pretending to exert his full capacities. 
Primitive peoples and most of the cultures of the Orient, above all the 
Hindu, have never fallen under the spell of this modem time-obses- 
sion; and we have something to learn from their ways. If they pos- 
sibly need a greater willingness to accept external order and regu- 
larity, we in the West need a more ready submission to the demands 
of life. 

At critical moments of pressure a single pause of short duration 
may become an act of large dimensions. Skilled administrators have 
learned to walk out of their offices and be by themselves for five min- 
utes before making an important decision; but something far more 
pervasive and ramifying than this is necessary before we shall do 
justice to the time we command. We must not merely introduce more 
breaks into our compulsive routines: we must slow down the whole 
tempo of activity and spread attention more evenly over every part 
of our day, altering the mechanical beat of our lives, transposing 
events to other parts of the day than their usual appointed place. The 
threat of dullness in married life, for example, may be partly due 
to the fact that too often sexual intercourse occurs only during the 
jaded hours that end the day; while the undue charm of extra-marital 
erotic adventure may be due to the fact that it often breaks with this 
routine: late afternoon was traditionally the favored hour, in Paris, 
for illicit lovers’ assignations. The change of time and place by them- 
selves may have the quickening effect that people often seek only 
through a change of partners. 

The first public acknowledgment of the creative pause was, of 
course, the Jewish institution of the Sabbath: a social invention of the 
first magnitude. But in our Western culture the day of rest has now 
become another day of busy work, filled with amusements and rest- 
less diversions not essentially different from the routine of the work 
week — particularly in America: from the Sunday morning scramble 
through the metropolitan newspaper to the distracting tedium of the 
motor car excursion, we continually activate leisure time, instead of 



letting all work and routine duties come serenely to a halt. Even in 
Wordsworth’s day the pressure to be up and doing must have been 
heavy: why, otherwise, his lines: ‘‘Think you, mid all this mighty sum 
of things for ever speaking, that nothing of itself will come, but we 
must still be seeking?” That wise passiveness in which the soul lies 
open to whatever forces from any direction may touch it is a highly 
necessary counterpoise to over-narrowed and over-directed forms of 
activity, particularly to drilled submission to the machine. 

But note: the deliberate break in routine must be more than an 
occasional exercise: it has a constant place in every well-organized 
activity. Even factory managers have come to realize that a period of 
rest and recreation within the work day is necessary in order to keep 
up the pace of machine production: though few industrial plants are 
yet planned with sufficient areas for spontaneous recreation close at 
hand. In his account of the Second World War, Mr Winston Churchill 
has told us how necessary a nap in the afternoon was for him to re- 
gain the power to work, when pressed, far into the night. Similarly 
the Mohammedan, with his repeated prayers, disengages himself from 
immediate demands and importunities, and comes back to them, one 
would guess, with a better perspective and a serener grasp. Reflection, 
daydreaming, quiescence, sleep — all these alterations in the tempo, 
driven out by the pragmatic demand for visible action and visible 
achievement, are essential for keeping conduct truly responsive to 
reason. Many foolish habits and routines would not survive if we 
dared to pause long enough to look at them. 

We shall not make the effort to control time, unless we realize how 
much of our work routine is not merely compulsive but obsessive: a 
neurotic attempt to create a refuge in external regularity from internal 
disorder, to retreat, with an energetic appearance of victory, from the 
unsolved problems of life. Compulsive work and the general speed-up 
indeed kept people “out of mischief” by diverting their libidinous 
fancies, and the daily absorption in work lightened sorrow and di- 
minished the tragic sense of life: if one “filled one’s time” with work, 
all one’s personal and domestic frustrations would seem less exacer- 
bating, and the gnawing sense of a more ultimate emptiness would be 
effaced. Western man, then, temporarily found in work a relief from 
the unanswerable problems, the mysteries, that give life its wider di- 

But there is no purpose in incessant systematic work, or in the 
leisure that the machine has already introduced, unless we make a 



different use of the time so put at our disposal. To practice an external 
speed-up without an internal slow-down that brings with it a more 
copio,us supply of personally usable and enjoyable time, is an extrava- 
gant misdirection of our time and energy. From a human standpoint, 
Jthe chief purpose of time-saving is to decrease the time spent in un- 
rewarding instrumental and preparatory tasks, and to increase the 
time spent in consummations and fulfillments. Where the process it- 
self is a creative and enjoyable one — like the work of the artist, the 
scientist, the skilled craftsman, the teacher — reduction of time is 
actually a curtailment of life. 

Even in the most rewarding vocations, some time-saving may be 
needful, in order that we may each assimilate in fuller measure a 
world whose boundaries in time and space now spread far beyond the 
narrow circle of the limited individual ego. We must save time in the 
present, in other words, in order to spend time more actively in the 
past and the future; for it is by his critical assimilation of history and 
biography — the individual’s and the world’s — and by his selective 
forecasts and projections into the future, that modern man differs most 
decisively from the representatives of other cultures. 

Now specialized thinking, which proceeds along a single track and 
avoids all side excursions, was mainly a time-saving device. In our 
need to create balanced persons, we must resort to polyphonic or con- 
trapuntal thinking, thinking that carries a series of related themes to- 
gether so that in the process they simultaneously work upon each other 
and modify each other. By its very nature, contrapuntal thinking is 
a time-consuming device, inimical to any form of speed-up: it is 
quicker to rehearse a solo part than to bring an orchestra to per- 

Take the case of a heart specialist who examines a patient with a 
functional disturbance of the heart. When that organ is considered as 
an isolated fact, the main points to be determined are those revealed 
only by physical examination. But a true physician, guided by a phi- 
losophy of the organism, must make a much more subtle and complex 
approach to the problem. He thinks not of the abstract anatomical 
heart, but of a particular heart — in relation to his patient’s history, 
which is a biological and social fact; in relation to habits of nutri- 
tion, which is a physiological and social fact; in relation to occupa- 
tion, which is an economic fact; in relation to home environment, which 
is a geographic and personal fact; and in relation to psychological 
and sexual problems — all of which contribute to the whole picture. 



Permanently to effect a change in the faulty function, the physician 
may have to prescribe a different vocation or a psychoanalytic treat- 

Such diagnosis and therapy will often lack the swiftness and pat- 
ness of the old-fashioned specialist’s method: to arrive at a compe- 
tent diagnosis and bring about a permanent cure will often take far* 
more time. Even if one allows for intuitive shortcuts, they can hardly 
be safely practiced without a circumspect check-up of many facts not 
visible in the doctor’s office. Without a slowing down of the tempo, 
we cannot in fact do justice to all the levels and aspects of contempo- 
rary knowledge. Contrapuntal thinking itself, if widely practiced, will 
help to slow down the tempo of life: it will even reduce that over- 
productivity which threatens to choke up the very sources of knowl- 
edge. Once we begin to think organically, that is, simultaneously at 
every level, the results should be far more sound and durable, when 
they are achieved: but they will be scantier in quantity. In future, 
people will perhaps be happy to accomplish in a whole lifetime, as part 
of a fully integrated effort, what they now do in the course of a 
decade, with a few of their functions over-stimulated and over-tasked, 
and the rest of their capacities in a state of inanition or collapse. On 
this basis, both knowledge and life will gain. 

One of the great problems of the transitional era, then, is to recon- 
cile the external, mechanical, public time-schedule that now governs 
so much of our activities with organic, personal, self-controlled time, 
associated with metabolism, memory, and cumulative human experi- 
ence, dependent upon the rate of growth, the intensity and extent of 
activity, the capacity for assimilation. The first contributes a great 
potential margin of free time, and along with it the free energy needed 
for enjoying it, leisure and energy on a scale no other civilization has 
ever offered to so many of its members, except under a constant threat 
of dearth and starvation. But the second, which has so far found no 
adequate forms in our society, must now be consciously developed, in 
order to take full advantage of this opportunity. Subjective time — 
Bergson’s duree — ^keeps a different rhythm from the planets and the 

Though our first reaction to the external pressure of time neces- 
sarily takes the form of the slow-down, the eventual effect of libera- 
tion will be to find the right measure and tempo for every human activ- 
ity, and to introduce, at will, appropriate variations: in short, to keep 
time in life as we do in music, not by obeying the mechanical beat of 



the metronome — a device only for beginners — ^but by finding the ap- 
propriate tempo from passage to passage, modulating the pace accord- 
ing to human need and purpose. We shall not be fully in control of 
our civilization, or able to express the higher qualities of life, until 
it is possible to reduce the tempo or accelerate it in response, not to 
ihe machine’s requirements for production, but to man’s requirements 
for a full and harmonious life. When we reach that stage, even our 
accelerandos will become more meaningful. Instead of hastening all 
our activities, under the vain conviction that ‘Ve are getting some- 
where,” we shall take our time — ^knowing that even the spacing of the 
silent intervals is part of the music. 


In time, if the practice of withdrawal becomes general, we will have 
to create a special social structure for it: let us call the new form of 
cloister The Great Good Place in honor of the fable in which Henry 
James not merely diagnosed the formidable pressures of our time, but 
also indicated in an imaginative way the kind of environment and rou- 
tine needed to overcome them. No house in the future will be gen- 
erously planned that does not have its closet or its cell, to supplement 
the only equivalent for it today, the bathroom; no city will be well 
designed that does not set apart places of withdrawal: solitary walks, 
secluded woodland hideouts, imfrequented towers hard to climb, de- 
vious paths, like the old Ramble in Central Park, no fewer of these 
than pf public places where people can go in groups for social com- 
mimion or common recreation. The whole tendency of our minds, dur- 
ing the last century of mechanized urban expansion, was so opposed 
to this need for withdrawal that the ideal of almost all town planners, 
up to now, has been to make all places equally accessible, equally 
open, equally public. 

Now so far the cloister has performed only an involuntary part in 
the re-building of the person and the community. Though monastic 
withdrawal was dismissed as a medieval superstition by the rational- 
ists of the nineteenth century, the fact is that it continued to operate: 
for the cloister had its part in transforming the vision and personality 
of the great revolutionary leaders, in repeated periods of forced re- 
tirement to exile in foreign countries, above all in the abstemious regu- 
lar discipline of the prison. From Karl Marx to Lenin and Stalin, from 
Herzen and Kropotkin to Dostoyevsky and Hitler, from Mazzini and 



Garibaldi to Gandhi and Nehru, a great succession of leaders submit- 
ted, however unwillingly, to the inner concentration that prison life 
brought with it. For many a young man, during this period, long voy- 
ages at sea played a similar part: it was at sea that Henry ’George 
got his first intuition of his intellectual mission; and Herman Melville 
quite rightly called the whaling ship he sailed on his Harvard Colle^, 
indeed one may well trace to his long meditations on the maintop 
much of the originality of vision he brought into the world. 

Plainly a habit of life so precious must not be left to chance: nor 
need it be confined to the archaic forms that have been preserved in 
the Catholic Churches — ^though the silence and inner concentration of 
the monastery will long serve as an archetypal pattern of The Great 
Good Place. We need not court political repression or social disaster 
before we make use of the salutary function of the cloister: in our 
search for wholeness and balance we shall rather seek to democratize 
this institution and make it more generally available. This involves 
likewise a rearrangement of our time schedules. One of the marks of 
the new school and the new university will be the provision of hours 
of withdrawal, not spent in classroom study or in sport, in the midst 
of its regular work day: a period of concentration and reflection, in 
which the work of active selection and spiritual assimilation can go on. 

The physical adjunct to this concentration is the absence of visible 
distractions: an architecture, as Henry James put it, “‘all beautified 
with omissions.” This ensures the positive presence of esthetic order 
and clarity. At best, the alternating rhythm of wide landscape or sea- 
scape and walled room or closed garden is what brings the inner life 
to highest pitch: provided that there are no intruders from the outer 
world during one’s period of concentration. Mr. Arnold Toynbee has 
well emphasized the process of “withdrawal and return” in creating 
leaders with new schemes and bold plans. Perhaps Adolf Hitler was 
never so dangerous to the world, in his corrupt intuitions, than when 
he withdrew frequently to his eyrie in Berchtesgaden ; similarly, he 
was never so stupid, crass, and uninventive as when he immersed him- 
self in the details of war, and lost the detachment and the wide per- 
spectives he gained in his more or less solitary retreats. Roosevelt 
found a similar detachment in a ship at sea. 

Those who omit this act of recuperation arid re-creation, by over- 
submission to the pressure of practical affairs, lose their hold over 
these affairs: they mechanically plod along the course on which, by 
external accident rather than positive choice, their feet have been set. 



Detachment: silence: innerness — ^these are the undervalued parts of our 
life, and only by their deliberate restoration, both in our personal 
habits and in our collective routines, can we establish a balanced 

At first, the discipline of withdrawal will be painful, since the tread- 
mfil of our daily life leads us to go through so many smooth involun- 
tary motions. Mere abstention involves a mighty effort. The very feel- 
ings we restore to consciousness will be painful and the actions that 
may follow difiicult: for we must first say No to the dominant claims 
of our time, before we shall he able to say Yes to those we shall create 
to replace them. Perhaps the chief curse of our condition, at first, will 
be the realization of how far we shall have to go before we become 
self-acting, self-directed, self-confident persons once more: how far 
the events that have victimized the last two generations, the series of 
wars, revolutions, economic catastrophes, and more wars, culminating 
in the prospect of even more meaningless forms of random slaughter, 
are the result of our own continued self-abdication. The goods of this 
society we have taken to ourselves; but the evils we have not resisted, 
since we did not dare to find them in ourselves, but attributed them to 
wholly external machinations or circumstances. 

Even in little ways these truths are open to demonstration. In my 
class on the Nature of Personality at Stanford University, I once asked 
my students, as part of a weekly exercise, to make a plan for the way 
in which they intended to spend a whole day; and then, when the day 
was over, to set down what they actually did hour by hour and com- 
pare it with their original program. That proved a useful exercise: 
for each student was surprised to find how easily his firmest intentions 
had been diverted by a little succession of outside pressures and stimuli 
over which he had exercised no control. This was not the miscarriage 
of Napoleon’s set plans of battle, a matter through which^Tolstoy sar- 
donically illustrated the opposition between reason and calculation 
and the unexpectedness of life itself, since battles too easily get out 
of hand through forces too complex for human control. No: in the 
case of the students it was a demonstration, quite typical of our whole 
culture, of how the infirmity of our inner convictions and intentions, 
indeed our profound lack of self-respect, makes us the easy prey of 
chance stimuli, which exercise imdue authority merely because they 
come from the outside. 

Today external arresting sensations take the place of rational mean- 
ings as in advertising: external stimuli replace inner purposes; and so 



we drift, from moment to moment, from hour to hour, indeed from 
one end of a lifetime to another, without ever regaining the initiative 
or making an active bid for freedom. Since we do not discipline and 
direct our dreams we submit to nightmares: lacking an ipner life, we 
lack an outer life that is worth having, too; for it is only by their 
coeval development and their constant interpenetration that life itsSlf 
can flourish. 

The moral should be plain: if, as Gregory the Great said, he who 
would hold the fortress of contemplation must first train in the camp 
of action, the reverse, for our times, is even more essential: he who 
would sally forth with a new plan of action must first withdraw to the 
innermost recesses of contemplation, on whose walls, when he becomes 
accustomed to the solitude and the darkness, a new vision of life will 
appear: not the objective after-image of the world he has left, but the 
subjective fore-image of the world he will return to and re-make. 


There is one further reason for the practice of withdrawal and spirit- 
ual concentration: perhaps the most important reason of all. To live 
wisely, each of us must lead a twofold life. We must live once in the 
actual world, and once more in our minds; and though we cannot give 
the same amount of time to the second as to the first, we can use the 
economy of symbols and images, as we do in nocturnal dreams, to en- 
compass as much life in a few minutes, if we secure the free time in 
the first place, as we could by actual hours of living. 

John Dewey has emphasized, quite rightly, the fact that thought 
which does not ultimately guide action is incomplete. But the reverse 
of Dewey’s dictum is likewise true. Action that does not, in turn, lead 
to reflection, is perhaps even more gravely incomplete. For one per- 
son who is lost so completely in reverie or abstract thought that he 
forfeits the capacity to act, there are now a hundred so closely com- 
mitted to action or routine that they have lost the capacity for rational 
insight and contemplative reconstruction: therefore they have lost the 
very possibility of re-formation and self-direction. But it is only by 
constant reflection and evaluation that our life, in fact, becomes fully 
meaningful and purposeful. In addition, when we prolong the good 
moments, by holding the flavor of them on the tongue, we achieve a 
sense of completion and fulfillment that comes by no other method. 
This is one of the reasons perhaps for the deep inner joy and perpet- 



ually self-renewing life of the great painters. In the humblest life 
that has achieved the capacity for reflection — and in rural cultures 
the gift is still not unknown among simple people — ^the second living 
sweetens and deepens the first. 

Now life is the only art that we are required to practice without 
fteparation, and without being allowed the preliminary trials, the 
failures and botches, that are essential for the training of a mere be- 
ginner. In life, we must begin to give a public performance before 
we have acquired even a novice’s skill; and often our moments of 
seeming mastery are upset by new demands, for which we have ac- 
quired no preparatory facility. Life is a score that we play at sight, 
not merely before we have divined the intentions of the composer, but 
even before we have mastered our instruments: even worse, a large 
part of the score has been only roughly indicated, and we must im- 
provise the music for our particular instrument, over long passages. 
On these terms, the whole operation seems one of endless difficulty 
and frustration; and indeed, were it not for the fact that some of the 
passages have been played so often by our predecessors that, when 
we come to them, we seem to recall some of the score and can antici- 
pate the natural sequence of the notes, we might often give up in sheer 
despair. The wonder is not that so much cacophony appears in our 
actual individual lives, but that there is any appearance of harmony 
and progression. 

In some respects, education gives us a foretaste of life and a little 
anticipatory practice: it serves us best perhaps in naive forms, as in 
little girls’ play at keeping house and tending dolls or the games and 
tests young boys devise for themselves. But there is no more time to 
anticipate life in detail than there is to re-enact it in detail. In the na- 
ture of things, each one of us, no matter how conscientious his inten- 
tions, commits many errors in living: but fortunately, it is not by the 
avoidance or the denial of these negative moments but by their assimi- 
lation and their eventual transformation that the human person grows. 

Before we have acquired any large degree of skill in living, we 
have already made momentous decisions or have had them made for 
us; and we have committed ourselves to courses that may turn out to 
be fatal to our best impulses. What is more, in the act of sailing be- 
fore the wind, we may be deflected, through absorption in the activity 
itself and the feeling of effortless movement that attends it, from the 
course we have deliberately chosen. All these choices, decisions, com- 
mitments, if allowed to accumulate, become progressively more ir- 



remediable. In our very desire to get more swiftly to our goal, we may 
neglect to look at charts or to take soundings, till suddenly we feel 
our ship scraping bottom — if we do not in fact crash more disastrously 
on the rocks. If most of us realized early enough the fact that w^ have 
only one life to lead, and that every moment of it that escapes reflec- 
tion is irretrievable, we should live it differently. Too often, halfwasir 
through the journey of life, we suddenly awaken to the fact that we 
will have no second chance on earth to rectify our errors: a decisive, 
often a tragic moment. 

This day of reckoning is fatal to the extent that it has not been an- 
ticipated. Consider the woman who, absorbed in her professional ca- 
reer, has too long postponed having children: one day she finds her 
period of childbearing is nearing an end; and if she labors under any 
physiological handicaps she may, despite all efforts at retrieval, have 
missed this part of her destiny: too late! Or take the man who has 
failed to give himself to the life of his family: preoccupied with his 
advancement in his business or profession, or even with a dutiful at- 
tempt to ‘‘provide well” for his household in an economic sense, he 
may have deprived his wife or his growing children of companionship 
or the more inward manifestations of love. Too late, he may awaken 
to find that his best opportunities have slipped from him: his sons and 
daughters have grown up and even if they have not been made resent- 
ful by his neglect, are out of his reach: he will be lucky if he finds 
the satisfactions of vicarious fatherhood as grandfather. So with a 
hundred other commitments. One cannot at the end of one’s life re- 
deem one’s earlier mistakes: for it is not atonement that one needs 
but a chance to re-direct one’s efforts. 

How, then, may we curb these fatal commitments and correct our 
errors before we are undone by them? There is, I believe, but one 
answer: we must extend the dismaying shortness of life by living it 
twice, as we encounter it day by day: that is, each of us must slow 
down his pace sufficiently to follow up his daily performances with 
the constant practice of meditation and reflection: a daily re-living, in 
which we examine our target, appraise our marksmanship, re-adjust 
our sights. On the positive side, we shall thereby prolong and enhance 
by further reflection whatever has given us sustenance or delight: a 
great boon in a time of violence and trouble, of interrupted lives and 
premature deaths, like the present era. A large part of life, particu- 
larly the succession of functions and actions that punctuate the stages 
of growth, is non-repeatable except in the mind: one must correct the 



mistakes of youth by appropriate actions in youth, not by compensa- 
tory efforts in maturity; and so with each other phase. Perhaps the 
best part of psychoanalytic therapy is this second-living; but it needs 
to be supplemented by the Calvinist habit of the daily self-examination. 

All this is but to repeat, in another form, the advice of Father Zos- 
si«na, in The Brothers Karamazov; “Every day and every hour, every 
minute, walk around yourself and watch yourself, and see that your 
image is a seemly one.” Only by an act of planned detachment is the 
living of this second life possible: that is why withdrawal requires a 
form: a time and a place and even if possible a structure that is dedi- 
cated to one’s second life — ^not as an escape from one’s active exist- 
ence, but as the means whereby it is completed, and in turn gives 
fresh impulses and fresh values to the future. Lacking this second life, 
we neither carry over consciously what is valuable from the past, nor 
successfully dominate the future; we fail to bring to it the energy and 
insight we have potentially acquired in the act of living: rather, we 
let ourselves be carried along by the tide, bobbing helplessly up and 
down like a corked bottle, with a message inside that may never come 
to shore. 


The Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt predicted that the corrup- 
tions and weaknesses already observable in Western civilization by 
the middle of the nineteenth century would result in the coming of the 
Terrible Simplifiers: people who, with ruthless decision and unstinted 
force, would overthrow even the good institutions that were, in fact, 
stifling the growth of the human spirit. “People,” he wrote, “may not 
yet like to imagine a world whose rulers completely ignore law, pros- 
perity, profitable labor, and industry, credit, etc.,” a world governed 
by military corporations and single parties: but such a world becomes 
possible when the majority no longer, through orderly means, exer- 
cises the initiative in continuously re-forming and re-directing institu- 
tions to serve human purposes. What the virtuous will not do in a 
reasonable constructive way, the criminal and barbarian take upon 
themselves to do, negatively and irrationally, for the sheer pleasure 
of destruction. When individuals shun responsibility as persons, their 
place is taken politically by a tyrant, who recovers freedom of initia- 
tive through crime. 



Even before Burckhardt, Dostoyevsky had predicted, with remark- 
able prescience, what would occur. In that enigmatic narrative. Letters 
from the Underworld, in which Dostoyevsky put so many challenging 
truths into the mouth of his sniveling, repulsive chief character, the 
veritable prototype of Hitler, he described the utilitarian heaven -of 
the nineteenth century: the heaven, still, of popular current scien'Se, 
in which all the questions that had heretofore troubled men would be 
precisely answered and all human acts would be mathematically com- 
puted according to nature’s laws, so that the world will cease to know 
any wrongdoing. Then he observes: “I should not be surprised if, 
amid all this order and regularity of the future, there should suddenly 
arise, from some quarter or another, some gentleman of lowborn — or 
rather, of retrograde and cynical — demeanor, who, setting his arms 
akimbo, should say to you all: ^How now, gentlemen? Would it not be 
a good thing if, with one accord, we were to kick all this solemn 
wisdom to the winds and send these logarithms to the devil, and to 
begin to live our lives again according to our own stupid whimsy?’ ” 

This is the nihilistic answer to the serious condition that every 
civilization at length finds itself in: the result of over-organization, 
the multiplication of superfluous wants, an excess of regularity and 
routine in the conduct of daily life, a fossilization of even happy rit- 
uals: all resulting in a failure of human initiative and a dull submis- 
sion to what seems an overbearing impersonal determinism. In such 
an existence people eat for the sake of supporting meat packers’ or- 
ganizations and dairymen’s associations, they guard their health care- 
fully for the sake of creating dividends for their life insurance corpo- 
rations, they earn their daily living for the sake of paying dues, taxes, 
mortgages, installments on their car or their television sets, or fulfill- 
ing their quota in a Five-Year Plan: in short, they satisfy the essen- 
tial needs of life for extraneous reasons. Just as in the business or- 
ganizations, run on such terms, the overhead tends to eat up the profit, 
so with life in general, the preparatory acts deplete the appropriate 

Such a society as ours eventually ties itself up into knots by its in- 
ability to put first things first. When a community reaches a point 
where no one can make a decision of the simplest sort without bring- 
ing into play an elaborate technique of research or accountancy, with- 
out enlisting the aid of innumerable specialists who take responsibility 
for only their minute fragments of the process, all the normal acts of 
living must be slowed down to such an extent that the economies orig- 



inally achieved by division of labor and large-scale organization are 
nullified. Thus the technique of diagnosis becomes as burdensome to 
the patient as his disease: indeed it becomes an auxiliary disease. At 
that point, the life of a community will be stalled and frustrated: it 
will not be capable of anticipating or circumventing the simplest crisis. 

But no community can permit itself to be stalled for long; for if 
we do not find a benign method of simplification, then the Terrible 
Simplifiers will come on the scene, recapturing freedom through sav- 
agery and charlatanism, if not through the polite forms sanctioned by 
an over-developed civilization. When our apparatus of fact-finding 
and truth-proving becomes too complicated, the Terrible Simplifiers 
will resort to brazen lies and childish superstitions. If our factual his- 
torians ostracize the Burckhardts and the Henry Adamses for daring 
to look into the future on the basis of their knowledge and wisdom, 
people who seek guidance will take to astrological horoscopes as a 

To escape the Terrible Simplifiers one must recognize the actual 
danger of the condition through which they obtain their ascendance 
over the frustrated majority: for the condition these charlatans profess 
to correct is in fact a serious one. Instead of closing our eyes to its 
existence, we must use art and reason to effect a benign simplification, 
which will give back authority to the human person. Life belongs to 
the free-living and mobile creatures, not to the encrusted ones; and 
to restore the initiative to life and participate in its renewal, we must 
counterbalance every fresh complexity, every mechanical refinement, 
every increase in quantitative goods or quantitative knowledge, every 
advance in manipulative technique, every threat of superabundance or 
surfeit, with stricter habits of evaluation, rejection, choice. To achieve 
that capacity we must consciously resist every kind of automatism: 
buy nothing merely because it is advertised, use no invention merely 
because it has been put on the market, follow no practice merely be- 
cause it is fashionable. We must approach every part of our lives 
with the spirit in which Thoreau undertook his housekeeping at Wal- 
den Pond: be ready, like him, even to throw out a simple stone, if it 
proves too much trouble to dust. Otherwise, the sheer quantitative in- 
crease in the data of scientific knowledge will produce ignorance: and 
the constant increase in goods will produce a poverty of life. 

There is no domain today where methods of simplification must 
not be introduced. Because of the uninhibited production of books and 
scholarly reviews, there is, for example, hardly a single province of 



thought where the human mind can make an adequate survey of the 
literature on any subject, except of the minutest province, come to in- 
telligent conclusions, or move confidently from reflection to practice. 
Our ingenious mechanical methods of solving this problem, like the 
invention of the microfilm, increase the size of the total burden: the 
only true salvation, in this and every other sphere, is voluntarily 
restrict production at its source and to increase our selectivity: both 
true simplifications, though only the enlightened and the courageous 
can apply them. This holds for the whole routine of life: never to use 
mechanical power when human muscles can conveniently do the work, 
never to use a motor car where one might easily walk, never to ac- 
quire information or knowledge except for the satisfaction of some 
immediate or prospective want — such modes of simplification, though 
individually insignificant, add up to a considerable degree of emanci- 
pation. A popular mentor, himself no enemy of the profit motive, once 
suggested that one should never waste time opening second class mail; 
and if that advice were generally taken, at least in America, a vast 
amount of time and energy would be saved: indeed whole forests 
would be preserved. Many other institutions will, in time, follow the 
example of a progressive school in New York: a school that once gave 
all its students intelligence tests and heaped up a vast mass of unused 
and unnecessary data. Now it has destroyed tiiese files and it gives 
special tests only to those who gravely need such additional checks. 

In Western coimtries one of the prime marks of an organic change 
in our culture — ^the hallmark of a new brotherhood and sisterhood — 
would probably be the drastic reduction of the now compulsive habits 
of smoking and drinking: along with this would go a return, on the 
part of women, to a mode of wearing their hair which would forego 
the elaborate mechanical or chemical procedure for producing fash- 
ionable uniformity of curl after original Hollywood models. Hundreds 
of thousands of acres of land would be freed for food-growing by 
curtailment of tobacco alone, along with some slight direct improve- 
ment of health, and a release, if the movement were spontaneous, 
from neurotic obsessions. The fact that even in a time of worldwide 
starvation, after the Second World War, no one dared to suggest even 
a partial conversion of tobacco land to food-growing, shows how rigid, 
rigid almost to the point of rigor mortis, our civilization has become: 
with no sufficient power of adaptation to reality. Nor is this demon- 
stration lessened by the fact that there is record of starving men ask- 



ing for tobacco ahead of food: that merely shows the depth of our 
perversion of life-needs. 

Many effective kinds of simplification will perhaps be resisted at 
first on the ground that this means a ‘""lowering of standards.” But this 
overlooks the fact that many of our standards .are themselves extrane- 
o?*s and purposeless. What is lowered from the standpoint of mechan- 
ical complexity or social prestige may be raised from the standpoint 
of the vital function served, as when the offices of friendship them- 
selves replace, as Emerson advocated in his essay on household econ- 
omy, elaborate preparations of food and service, of napery and silver. 

Consider the kind of frugal peasant living that Rousseau first ad- 
vocated, when he chose to live in a simple cottage, instead of in the 
mansion of his patron, surrounded by “comforts” : all this wipes away 
time-consuming rituals and costly temptations to indigestion. Or con- 
sider the gain in physical freedom modern woman made, when the 
corset and petticoats, the breast-deformers, pelvis-constrictors, back- 
bone-curvers of the Victorian period gave way to the garb of the early 
1920’s, without girdle, brassiere, or even stocking supporters: a high 
point of freedom in clothes from which women sheepishly recoiled 
under the deft browbeating of manufacturers with something to sell. 

Naturally the sort of simplification needed must itself conform to 
life-standards. Thoreau’s over-simplification of his diet, for instance, 
probably undermined his constitution and gave encouragement to the 
tuberculosis from which he finally died. By now we know that a diet 
consisting of a single kind of food is not part of nature’s economy: 
the amino acids appear to nourish the body only when various ones 
are present in different kinds of food: so that the lesson of life is not 
to confuse simplicity with monotony. So, too, a tap of running water, 
fed by gravity from a distant spring, is in the long run a far more 
simple device, judged by the total man-hours used in production and 
service, than the daily fetching of water in a bucket: as the bucket, in 
turn, is more simple than making even more frequent journeys to the 
spring to slake one’s thirst directly. Simplicity does not avoid mechan- 
ical aids: it seeks only not to be victimized by them. That image should 
save us from the imbecile simplifiers, who reckon simplicity, not in 
terms of its total result on living, but in terms of immediate first costs 
or in a pious lack of visible apparatus. 

Sporadically, during the last three centuries, many benign simplifi- 
cations h^ve in fact come to pass throughout Western civilization; 



though, as in the case of women’s dress just noted, they have some- 
times been followed by reactions that have left us as badly off as ever. 
Rousseau, coming after the Quakers, carried their simplification of 
manners through to diet, to child nurture, and to education f while 
Hahnemann began a similar change in medicine, a change followed 
through by Dr William Osier, under whom hundreds of spurious drufs 
and complicated prescriptions were discarded, in favor of the Hippo- 
cratic attention to diet and rest and natural restoratives. In handicraft 
and art and architecture the same general change was effected, first 
by William Morris, in his rule: ‘‘Possess nothing that you do not know 
to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Modern architecture, though 
it has often been distracted and perverted by technical over-elabora- 
tion, can justify its essential innovations as an attempt to simplify the 
background of living, so that the poorest member of our society will 
have as orderly and harmonious an environment as the richest: it has 
discarded complicated forms as a badge of class and conspicuous 
waste. Wherever the machine is intelligently adapted to human needs, 
it has the effect of simplifying the routine of life and releasing the 
human agent from slavish mechanical tasks. It is only where the per- 
son abdicates that mechanization presents a threat. 

But in order to recover initiative for the person, we must go over 
our whole routine of life, as with a surgeon’s knife, to eliminate every 
element ^ purposeless materialism, to cut every binding of too-neat 
red tape, to remove the fatty tissue that imposes extra burdens on 
our organs and slows down all our vital processes. Simplicity itself is 
not the aim of this effort: no, the purpose is to use simplicity to pro- 
mote spontaneity and freedom, so that we may do justice to life’s new 
occasions and singular moments. For what Ruskin said of the differ- 
ence between a great painter, like Tintoretto, and a low painter, like 
Teniers, holds for every manifestation of life: the inferior painter, not 
recognizing the difference between high and low, between what is in- 
tensely moving and what’ is emotionally inert, gives every part of his 
painting the same refinement of finish, the same care of detail. The 
great painter, on the other hand, knows that life is too short to treat 
every part of it with equal care: so he concentrates on the passages of 
maximum significance and treats hastily, even contemptuously, the 
minor passages: his shortcuts an3 simplifications are an effort to give 
a better account of what matters. This reduction to essentials is the 
main art of life. 




Withdrawal, detachment, simplification, reflection, liberation from 
automatism — ^these are all but preliminary steps in the re-building of 
the self and the renewal of the society of which we are a part. These 
initial acts may, and in fact must, be taken by each of us alone: but 
the purpose of our withdrawal, of our fasting and purgation, is to re- 
awaken our appetite for life, to make us keen to discriminate between 
food and poison and ready to exercise choice. Once we have taken the 
preparatory steps, we must return to the group and re-imite ourselves 
with those who have been undergoing a like regeneration and are 
thereby capable of assuming responsibility and taking action. In rela- 
tively short order this fellowship may enfold men and women in every 
country, of every religious faith, of every cultural pattern. 

Here the rule is to begin with what lies nearest at hand. Who is our 
neighbor? He who has need of us whether he lives next door or half- 
way round the earth. Our best neighbor is he who is ready, for the 
sake of our common fellowship, to join with us in overcoming the 
barriers of space and time and culture. Now our first duty today is 
to secure the continued existence of the human race and to put all 
more local claims below this paramount condition: before we can have 
a sound village government, we must have a world government. Fami- 
lies cannot be permanently united with any prospect of a gc3l»d life to- 
gether until mankind is united. No household, no village or city, no 
trade union or chamber of commerce, no church or temple, is perform- 
ing even its minimum obligation to ensure its own continued existence 
unless a large part of its activity is actively devoted to the extension 
of human fellowship and to the institution of a common world law and 
government, capable of transmuting strife and struggle and frictions 
and contentions into peaceful forms of conflict and positive co-opera- 
tions. Universal service is the price of peace; and if we do not under- 
take it voluntarily, in our daily acts, we shall have it imposed upon 
ourselves in the negative forms of war, at a far more fearful sacrifice. 
We cannot escape these obligations and withdraw once more into 
purely private self-centered lives, individual or national: our only 
choice is whether we will perform them voluntarily in the name of 
life, or under strict compulsion in the name of destruction and death. 

Our part in the group can no longer be a passive one: it is not 
enough to belong: one must act and lead; and our achievement of 



balance will be meaningless unless it makes us ready, on demand, to 
take our turn at any or all the roles in a group: to command and to 
think, to emotionalize and energize, to assimilate and obey. Groups 
become sluggish and automatic in their behavior, incapable of niaking 
fresh decisions like persons, just to the extent that their members ac- 
cept as permanent a stereotyped division of labor and function. Neithesf 
democracy nor effective representation is possible until each partici- 
pant in the group — and this is true equally of a household or a nation 
— devotes a measurable part of his life to furthering its existence. 
Our present division of time, whereby forty-odd hours a week is given 
to work, fifty-odd hours to sleep, and the remaining hours mainly to 
individual concerns or family affairs and recreation, cannot possibly 
bring about a balanced life. 

The change to be effected in group life is not one that will proceed, 
like the changes envisaged by earlier forms of revolution, through 
the agency of political parties; and it is the precise opposite of every 
form of totalitarian absolutism and single party rule. For just as 
time and space, for modem man, is multi-dimensional, so likewise are 
political activities: the new forms of group living and group initiative 
will become effective at every level: in the family and the neighbor- 
hood at one pole, and in a world government, embracing humanity, at 
the other pole. 

Each group, like each person, must become increasingly self-govern- 
ing and self-developing, with a breaking down of many existing auto- 
matic political and economic controls. But in the very act of recover- 
ing initiative and extending its proper activities, even the smallest 
group will, as a constant preoccupation of its existence, work to build 
up more universal co-operations. No group lives to itself. To create a 
man of truly human dimensions one needs the co-operation of a uni- 
versal society; to create a xmiversal society, one must begin and end 
with men who seek fullness of life: who refuse to be insignificant frac- 
tions and seek to become integers. These are two aspects of the same 
act; and with that act, a new world will come into being. 

For the awakened man and woman, life itself is essentially a proc- 
ess of education, through maturation, crisis, and renewal: in that 
process, the fullest potentialities of the community and the person are 
realized. Such a philosophy does not segregate learning from living, 
or knowledge from action. As adult he never leaves the school behind 
him, for at no point does he believe that his education is completed. 
When his daily work ceases to be formative and educative, he will 



make special efforts to restore these c/ualities, or seek another occu- 
pation; for he will regard such a loss of interest as a direct impover- 
ishment of life. The mark of the balanced personality, in the indus- 
trial system, will be not higher productivity or higher wages — ^though 
both may be possible and necessary — ^but the integration of work and 
leisure and social life and education: such a transformation as has 
taken place during the last decade in France under the Boimondau 

To achieve unity in the person, the balanced man has need of a 
community that is equally full and complete; and that, above all, has 
recovered in every form of organization the human scale and the ca- 
pacity for intimate knowledge and self-directed action that goes with 
the human scale. The restoration of the human scale is a matter of 
utmost importance : till that change takes place no effective regeneration 
can be brought about. The very extension of the range of community 
in our time, through national and worldwide organizations, only in- 
creases the need for building up, as never before, the intimate cells, 
the basic tissue, of social life: the family and the home, the neighbor- 
hood and the city, the work-group and the factory. Our present civili- 
zation lacks the capacity for self-direction because it has committed it- 
self to mass organizations and has built its structures from the top 
down, on the principle of all dictatorships and absolutisms, rather 
than from the bottom up: it is efficient in giving orders and compelling 
obedience and providing one-way communication: but it is in the main 
still inept in everything that involves reciprocity, mutual eiid, two-way 
commimication, give-and-take. 

No matter how worldwide and inclusive the province of any asso- 
ciation or institution, whether it be a trade union or a church or a 
bank, there must be, at the central core, an organic form of associa- 
tion: a group small enough for intimacy and for personal evaluation, 
so that its members can meet frequently as a body and know each 
other well, not as units but as persons: small enough for rotation in 
offices and roles, for direct, face-to-face meeting, for discussion and 
decision on the basis of intimate understanding: the close loyalties of 
friendship are needed to tide over all conflict and internal opposition. 
All organic communities of a larger stature should, ideally, be formed 
by the federation of smaller units: any other method is but a provi- 
sional and mechanical solution, destructive of the very purposes of 

* See All Things Common, by Claire Huchet Bishop in Bibliography. 



The perception that every association has a natural limit of growth 
in its primary units might be called Ebenezer Howard’s theorem. 
Though he set it forth only in relation to cities, it applies to every 
kind of group organization. By now a succession of sociological stud- 
ies, from Le Play and Cooley to Homans, re-enforced by an increas- 
ing number of practical experiments, has shown that limitation of sia^ 
is an essential attribute of all organic grouping: the true alternative 
to big, rigid organizations, cramped by their self-imposed routine, is 
to limit the number of people in the local group, and to multiply and 
federate these groups. 

In short, balance, even in large organizations and communities, de- 
mands a return to the human scale and the personal, I-and-thou rela- 
tionship. Only by creating such organic self-limited — but not self- 
centered or self-contained — communities in the school, the factory, 
the office, the city, can the balanced person have the milieu in which 
his new powers may be more effectively exercised. There is no upper 
limit to effective association once these conditions for avoiding over- 
centralization and congestion and for promoting self-education and 
self-government are observed. 

In an era of balance, the educational and political aspects of life 
will take precedence over the economic ones: a reversal of nineteenth 
century practice. As in the Boimondau experiment in France, the de- 
velopment of the worker as person will modify the system of associa- 
tion and technical production; though the latter will often gain in 
purely physical terms as a result of removing the psychological block- 
ages that have so long impeded full production. What administrators 
of large enterprises like Mr Chester Barnard have done in analyzing 
the processes of administration the workers themselves will increas- 
ingly do as they take over the tasks of self-government and self- 

What possibly gives the Boimondau scheme great significance for 
the future is the fact that it derives, not from any doctrinaire leader- 
ship, but from the inner compulsion on the part of the workers to unify 
their lives: to make the work process provide the means for re-inte- 
grating town and country, education and family life, leisure and sys- 
tematic effort. These workers, retaining their original ideological 
identity as Catholics, materialists, humanists, protestants, socialists, 
conservatives, communists, have nevertheless moved toward a common 
goal and have laid down the framework for a balanced life. If that 
method proves viable, it will give a new pattern of development to our 



whole industrial system: one that will create, for the first time, a bal- 
anced work community, on sounder lines than Fourier, even in his 
best moments, dared to dream. 

From this point of view, work and citizenship cannot be divorced: 
they are co-ordinate phases of a single life-process whose purpose is 
fo create intelligent, animated, and emotionally mature men and women. 
The first sound steps toward combining these sundered aspects of life 
were taken by Fourier and Froebel over a century ago: the latter with 
his conception of the Kindergarten, which started education on the 
path it has still to follow to its terminus, and the first in his concep- 
tion of the work army for peace — a proposal later modified by William 
James in his Moral Equivalent for War. 

Once war armies are disbanded, peace armies, on a far larger scale, 
must be formed. Every young man and woman, at the age of eighteen 
or thereabouts, should serve perhaps six months in a public work corps. 
In his own region he will get training and active service, doing a thou- 
sand things that need to be done, from planting forests and roadside 
strips, supervision of school children in nurseries and playgrounds to 
the active companionship with the aged, the blind, the crippled, from 
auxiliary work in harvesting to fire-fighting. 

Unlike military service, these forms of public work will be carried 
out with the educational requirements uppermost; and without any jus- 
tifiably uneasy conscience as to the premature coarsening of the fiber 
of the tender and the sensitive. No citizen should be exempt from these 
common work experiences and services. But every effort should be made, 
for the sake of education, to take the student out of his home envi- 
ronment for a period, introducing him to other regions and other modes 
of life. Those who show special interest and aptitude should be given 
the opportunity to perform similar service in an international corps 
in order to become active participants in the working life and culture 
of other countries. 

In time, these planetary student migrations will, let us hope, take 
place on an immense scale, comparable to the comings and goings of 
unskilled labor from Europe to America at the beginning of the twen- 
tieth century: but now worldwide in scope and with teachers, not labor 
bosses, to lead them. The result of such transmigrations would be to 
enrich every homeland with mature young men and women, who knew 
the ways and farings of other men, who would bring back treasures 
with them, songs and dances, technical processes and civic customs, 



not least, ethical precepts and religious insights, knowledge not taken 
at third hand from books, but through direct contact and living ex- 
perience: thus, the young would bring back into every village and 
city a touch of the universal society of which they form an activ'e part. 

Such people would be ready for further study, further travel, fur- 
ther research, for further tasks and adventures, as the harried youi?g 
people of today, threatened with the horrid compulsions of war, 
caught in the bureaucratic routine of school, office, and factory, are 
not. They would no longer live in their present parochial world: that 
world whose narrow limits are not in fact extended by the vague drib- 
ble of information and suggestion that reaches them by way of books 
or radios, filtered through many political and ideological sieves. 

The present trickle of students already passing back and forth be- 
tween certain parts of Europe and America under the Fulbright Act, 
are still caught by the routines of conventional education. But in time, 
their studies, their civic responsibilities, and their vocational interests 
will be united in a new kind of education; and mighty streams of such 
students, flowing back and forth along the seaways and skyways, will 
eventually irrigate the parched cultural soil of many lands. 

Though with some misgivings, I have used a concrete but delib- 
erately eutopian illustration of the new doctrines and practices, to 
bring out the rich potentialities that lie before us, once we rise to the 
challenge of the present crisis, with positive plans and projects, grow- 
ing out of an inner renewal. But it would be an error to dismiss this 
as a mere fantasy. For what have I suggested but a democratic version 
of the grand tour that the favored classes of Europe gave their young 
heirs in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: a system of educa- 
tion that did much — in purely class terms of course — ^to promote the 
true Concert of Europe, and even to bring about a certain humane for- 
bearance in the conduct of war and the settlements of peace that con- 
trasts with our present unseemly practices, due to our isolation, our 
language barriers, our defective cultural sympathies and our self- 
righteous harshness. 

The comradeship and understanding of such a world fellowship of 
the young, based on common experience and common purposes car- 
ried through together, the stimulus of new interest that would come 
with foreign service, would turn world co-operation into a working 
reality; and in time create a true world community. Such a course of 
education in world citizenship would create seasoned young men and 



women, awakened to the immense variety and diversity of other cul- 
tures, yet more conscious than ever, through the services they have 
interchanged, of their common humanity. With such young people, 
a Wolld Constitution, providing positive world government along such 
firm lines as those laid down by G. A. Borgese and his colleagues in 
Chicago group, would be in safe hands. 

To submit to a more niggardly and isolated life today, to ask for 
less from the democratic commitment to universal education than the 
opportunity to perform such services, engage in such co-operations, 
enjoy such contacts and adventures, is a sign of our defective life- 
values, indeed of our barbarized and regressive culture: a culture 
sunk, for all its advances in health and technology and economic se- 
curity, far below the level of that which prevailed in 1914 throughout 
the planet. Even under the very unfavorable conditions of the Second 
World War, the planetary deployment of military forces gave many 
young people opportunities for first-hand contacts and co-operations. 
Unprepared for such intercourse by their education and their pro- 
vincial habits of life, the majority of Americans got nothing from these 
opportunities: they turned their backs on them, or perhaps came back 
with an inflation of self-esteem over American plumbing and iced 
drinks. But a significant minority, in every country, was deeply moved 
by these experiences: more than one young man and woman, even when 
not bound by marriage, has gone back to the far region that awakened 
his interest or his loyalty — ^to Burma, China, India, Japan, Italy, or 
Palestine, or even Germany — ^to serve as a bridge betv/een Eastern and 
Western cultures. 

By such means, not by books and constitutions and laws and tech- 
nical devices alone, we will create one world. One of the ultimate 
aims of our lifetime education will be to make us the sharers in and 
creators of this universal culture: out of that development will come 
• balanced regions, balanced communities, balanced men. Once the re- 
newal we have pictured begins to work in the person, in a multitude 
of individuals and groups throughout the world, many projects that 
now seem as remote as the International Work Corps will become near: 
many plans for the re-building of cities to human scale, for the re- 
integration of city and country, for the humanization of industry, for 
the development of family life, for the general endowment of the 
workers’ new leisure with active opportunities for creation, such as 
the artist knows, will become feasible. 




Each one of us must find and work out for himself the ways in 4vhich 
he must modify his life, so as to achieve balance and self-direction, 
make the fullest use of his potentialities, and so contribute to the gen- 
eral renewal of life. There is no single formula for achieving this 
transformation; for the intellectual, so far from needing a balanced 
diet of the “hundred best books,” often needs rather a stiff turn at 
manual toil or the assumption of active political responsibilities in his 
community, or in thought itself intensive study in some neglected 

Similarly the manual worker needs to push his mind far harder 
than he has yet learned: to devote himself to ideas as determinedly as 
that mid-Victorian British worker who, not being able to buy Ruskin’s 
works, copied them out by hand in order to have them in his own pos- 
session. “We went down to the mine,” an old miner in England ob- 
served to an acquaintance of mine, “with a book of Carlyle’s or Mill’s 
in our pocket to read whilst we ate; but the boys today go down with 
a newspaper and at night they don’t wrestle with a book, but go to 
sleep over the wireless.” No one can doubt that the physical conditions 
among miners have vastly improved in recent years; but their mental 
attitude has perhaps deteriorated; for they lack the purpose and self- 
discipline of the older generation. Seebohm Rowntree’s second Survey 
of York confirms this supposition. 

The first rule for autonomous development, toward which all edu- 
cation should tend, is to be able in normal health to provide for one’s 
own wants and regulate one’s own life, without undue dependence upon 
others. However ingrained the habits of co-operation in a family, the 
ideal person should be schooled to self-reliance. To have the habit of 
making one’s own bed, cleaning one’s own room, to be able to take 
turns at cooking meals for oneself or others, and performing whatever 
other operations are necessary for the maintenance of a household, 
including care of the sick and minding children, are essential for the 
development of both sexes; if only because this is the main way of 
freeing ourselves from claims to service which come down from days 
of imiversal slavery. 

In this respect, a great advance has been made in many modern 
communities: not least in the United States where the frontier tradi- 
tion of self-reliance and self-sufficiency has given the males in par- 



ticular an unusual willingness to look after themselves and to take 
on some of the menial burdens of the household. An Italian, self- 
exiled from Fascism, told me once that he did not know the real mean- 
ing of" freedom until he was established in a little apartment in New 
York, and found that since there was no servant to look after him 
he was expected to make his own breakfast — and actually accom- 
plished this feat. That was both a symbolic and a practical act of lib- 
eration. These autonomous activities, bed-making, cooking, dish-wash- 
ing, cleaning, provide a certain amount of manual labor, bread labor, 
as Tolstoy called it, essential for a balanced life. Such daily work 
largely does away with the necessity for special gymnastic exercises. 
If in addition one cares for a garden, no further routine exercise is 
necessary to keep the adult body in condition: what one may do by 
way of walking, swimming, climbing, playing games, will be for re- 
laxation and delight. 

Part of the discipline of daily life is to organize one’s activities so 
as to be able to devote a good share of one’s time and energy to public 
service in the community. That service cannot begin too early or be 
carried on too consistently; for the resorption of government by the 
citizens of a democratic community is the only safeguard against those 
bureaucratic interventions that tend to arise in every state through the 
negligence, irresponsibility, and indifference of its citizens. Many 
services that are now performed inadequately either because the 
budget does not provide for them or because they are in the hands 
of a remote officialdom, should be performed mainly on a voluntary 
basis by the people of a local community. This includes not merely 
administrative services too often dodged in a democracy, like service 
on school boards, library boards, and the like: it should also include 
other kinds of active public work, like the planting of roadside trees, 
the care of public gardens and parks, even some of the functions of 
the police. Through such work, each citizen would not merely become 
at home in every part of his city and region; he would take over the 
institutional life of his community as a personal responsibility. 

In the new discipline for the daily life, then, public work must re- 
ceive, along with one’s vocation and one’s domestic life, its due share 
of energy, interest, loving care. War tends to over-concentrate such 
claims, divorcing a soldier from his family, forcing him to abandon 
completely his vocation: making the claims of the community over- 
ride all personal desires and preferences. But no form of integration 
that leaves out the constant need for public service will be capable 



of redressing the radical unbalance that exists in present-day so- 
ciety. The leisure that has now become possible in advanced socie- 
ties for workers of all grades must be largely devoted to the tasks 
of citizenship; for the more world-embracing become the spheres of 
co-operation, the more essential it is that the local units of govern- 
ment and administration and industrial organization be vigilantly ad- 
ministered, through wide participation in criticism, and through the 
exercise of democratic initiative: a matter of giving suggestons and 
making demands from the bottom up, not merely a matter of taking 
orders from the top down. At the level of the intimate, face-to-face 
group politics should, as Michael Graham wisely suggests, be a mat- 
ter for weekly, not quadrennial, consultations. 

Finally, the re-building of the family, the assumption of one’s role 
as lover and parent, as son or daughter, is vital to a balanced life. 
During the last decade, even in countries where little thought has been 
devoted to the subject, there has been a spontaneous recovery of paren- 
tal and family values, on the part of childrerx whose parents had taken 
a more narrowly egotistic attitude toward sex and its domestic responsi- 
bilities: in this realm, there have been more spontaneous acts of renewal, 
perhaps, than in any other department. The violence and evil of our 
time have been, when viewed collectively, the work of loveless men: 
impotent men who lust after sadistic power to conceal their failure 
as lovers: repressed and frustrated men, lamed by unloving parents 
and seeking revenge by taking refuge in a system of thought or a 
mode of life into which love cannot intrude: at best, people whose 
erotic impulses have been cut off from the normal rhythms of life, 
self -enclosed atoms of erotic exploit, incapable of assuming the mani- 
fold responsibilities of lovers and parents through all the stages of life, 
unwilling to accept the breaks and abstentions of pregnancy, making 
sexual union itself an obstacle to the other forms of social union that 
flow out of family life. 

Here the way of growth is twofold; for one thing, it consists in giv- 
ing back to marriage the erotic depth and effulgence that a too-docile 
bovine acceptance of continuous parenthood, without pause or relief, 
had once brought with it. To this end, the introduction of relatively 
safe, though still esthetically unsatisfactory, contraceptives has served 
a good purpose. But in addition the parental side of marriage needs 
far greater fostering than it has yet received. With rising national in- 
comes homes must become more generous in space to give full play 
to family life; social measures must be taken to help families of four 



or five children from being undue economic burdens to those who 
choose to have them: more of the functions that have slid into the 
province of the school must go back to the home, once the domestic 
environment of house and neighborhood is designed deliberately for 
the play and education of children under the tutelage of their parents, 
^he loving observation of children’s growth, even some systematic 
habit of observing and recording these transformations, in family 
books and collections of papers and photographs, brings one of life’s 
most precious rewards: yet in our impoverished urban environments, 
people devote to bridge or television, to soap operas or to other forms 
of sodden play, much of the time that they might spend, with far 
greater reward, in intercourse and play with their young.* 

The denial of love here arrests the development of love in every 
other part of life; whereas the expression of love, through the various 
stages of attachment and detachment, from infancy through adoles- 
cence, is what contributes to human maturity, all the more because 
the last step in parental love involves the release of the beloved: the 
willing cutting of the cord that would otherwise keep the child in a 
state of emotional dependence. At that point in the parents’ growth, 
their love must widen sufficiently to embrace other children besides 
their own: otherwise they face desolation and bitterness. Meanwhile 
those who fail to achieve love in marriage and parenthood must be 
thrice vigilant to compensate that loss in every other relationship by 
placing it as far as possible within the pattern of the family. 

In short, the sharing of work experiences, the sharing of citizen re-, 
sponsibilities, and the sharing of the full cycle of family life, in 
homes and communities that are themselves re-dedicated to these val- 
ues — ^this is part of the constant discipline of daily life for those who 
seek to transform our civilization. Without this balance in our daily 
activities, we shall not bring to our larger task the emotional energy 
and the undistortedTove — ^not crippled by covert hatred and compensa- 
tory fanaticism — ^that it demands. 


Everyone realizes, at least in words, that only through a vast in- 
crease of effective love can the mischievous hostilities that now under- 
mine our civilization be overcome. The means are plain enough but 

* See The Family Log by Keaneth S. Beam in Bibliography. 



the method of application is lacking. Though love could bring regen- 
eration, we have still to discover how to generate love: as with peace, 
those who call for it loudest often express it least. To make ourselves 
capable of loving, and ready to receive love, is the paramount problem 
of integration: indeed, the key to salvation. 

Both in the individual personality and in a culture as a whole, th^ 
nature of disintegration is to release impulses of aggression and ex- 
pressions of antagonism that were, during the period of development, 
sufficiently held in check to be innocuous, indeed, in some degree serv- 
iceable to the personality. The transformation of a benign personality 
into a belligerent one is one of the frequent aspects of senile decay: 
covered traditionally by humorous references. Though social phenom- 
ena are of a quite different order, a parallel deterioration, for parallel 
social causes, seems to operate there. 

The transformation of hate and aggression into kindness, of de- 
structiveness into life-furthering activities, depends upon our discover- 
ing the formative principle that prevails during the period of growth 
and development. Perhaps we can gain a clue to this by looking more 
attentively at the conditions that accompany senile breakdown. In that 
unfortunate state there is a curtailment of energies, a deterioration of 
organic functions, an undercurrent of frustration due to inadequate 
co-ordination, an increase of uncertainty and anxiety, and a steady 
shortening of the future: with this goes a shriveling of interest in activi- 
ties that lie outside the visible present: such a withdrawal as will even- 
tually reduce life to the body’s concern with food and evacuation. So 
the withdrawal of love and the rise of aggression go hand in hand; 
for love is a capacity for embracing otherness, for widening the circle 
of interests in which the self may operate, for begetting new forms of 

Integration proceeds by just the opposite route: a deliberate height- 
ening of every organic function: a release of impulses from circum- 
stances that irrationally thwarted them: richer and more complex pat- 
terns of activity: an esthetic heightening of anticipated realizations: 
a steady lengthening of the future: a faith in cosmic perspectives. Pre- 
cisely out of this sense of abundance and fullness of life comes the 
readiness to embrace the divine. Instead of withdrawing from situa- 
tions it cannot master in order to maintain mere bodily balance, love 
risks everything, even life itself, for the sake of a more complete en- 
gagement with that which lies outside it and beyond it. On this inter- 
pretation, the withdrawal of love is the deadliest sin against life; and 



the unrestricted giving of love and yielding to love are the only effec- 
tual means of redeeming its pains, frustrations, and miscarriages. 
Those who are impotent to love, from Hitler downward, must seek a 
negative counterpart in hatred and disintegration. 

Charles Peirce approvingly quoted Henry James Senior on the final 
liature of love: “It is no doubt very tolerable finite or creaturely love 
to love one’s own in another, to love another in conformity to one’s 
self; but nothing can be in more flagrant contrast with creative Love, 
all whose tenderness ex vi termini must be reserved only for what in- 
trinsically is most bitterly hostile and negative to itself.” “Everybody 
can see that the statement of St John,” Peirce goes on to say, “is the 
formula of an evolutionary philosophy, which teaches that growth 
comes only from love, from — I will not say self-5acriyice, but from 
the ardent impulse to fulfill another’s highest impulse.” 

To extend the domain of love, we must doubtless apply fresh psy- 
chological and personal insight toward promoting adventurous court- 
ship, erotic fulfillment, marital harmony, parental nurture, neighborly 
aid and succor. But while the renewal of all these phases of love is 
vital to the more general spread of gracious and loving ways through- 
out society, even this is not enough. Love is concerned, fundamentally, 
with the nurture of life at every occasion: it is the practice of bestow- 
ing life on other creatures and receiving life from them. Love is ego- 
centric and partial until it can also embrace all the dumb creatures 
who unconsciously participate in the wider scheme of life, until it be- 
stows itself on those who will never thank one, because they are im- 
conscious of our gift or because they are unborn; until it embraces 
those who would do one injury, prompting us to treat them with dig- 
nity and generosity, as warriors in reputedly more barbaric ages often 
treated the enemy. 

So it follows that part of our love must be expressed by our rela- 
tion to all living organisms and organic structures: some of our love 
must go to sea and river and soil, restraining careless exploitation and 
pollution: the trees and wild creatures of the forest, the fish in the 
rivers, are as subject to our affectionate care as the dogs or the cats 
who live in closer dependence on us. Consider the systematic wiping 
out of the natural landscape and the withdrawal from rural occupa- 
tions and rural ways that took place during the past century: the 
spread of megalopolitan deserts undercuts love at its very base be- 
cause it removes man’s sense of active partnership and fellowship in 
the common processes of growth, which bind him to other organisms. 



When such habits prevail, love is reduced to a thin verbal precept not 
a daily practice — a precept to be cynically disregarded on more inti- 
mate occasions as well. 

For social and personal integration we must develop the smdll life- 
promoting occasions for love as well as the grand ones. Not a day, 
then, without nurturing or furthering life: without repairing some 
ficiency of love in our homes, our villages, our cities: without caring 
for a child, visiting the sick, tending a garden, or making at least some 
token payment of good manners on this common debt. But likewise 
not a day without some more smiling expression of the delights of 
love: generous evidence of what William Blake called ‘‘the lineaments 
of satisfied desire.” Not just succor and service are the expressions of 
love: beauty is its oldest witness. 

Now beauty, as Plato taught, is the tangible proof of love: both in 
its incitement and its consummation. Beauty of movement and gesture: 
beauty of bodily form and costume and manner: beauty that leaps to 
life in dance or song: beauty as simple people know it in their daily 
life — ^the folk of Hawaii, Bali, Mexico, Brazil, or those little islands 
of farmers and fisherfolk that preserve their old dances and their old 
songs, full of disciplined passion, in the midst of the drably sophisti- 
cated society that envelops them. By all these means, when life is not 
reduced to a mechanical regimen, we make the love in our souls vis- 
ible to others, courting their approval and their co-operation, moving 
them by way of art into a closer union. 

When Erasmus came to England he was delighted to find that the 
Englishwomen of that day habitually saluted the newcomer with a 
kiss, out of affectionate courtesy; and what could have been a better 
proof of their sound erotic life? — a life that was to break forth, pres- 
ently, into such a lyric poetry as only a woodland of mating birds 
might produce. “Come live with me and be my love!” Though one 
may not or can not usually carry out that invitation, it ought to 
hover over the threshold of all human meetings; and where social rela- 
tions are healthy^ and love itself has not become sick with denial, art 
may honestly serve as surrogate for love: the social blessing bestowed 
for the personal blessing withheld. 

When love takes slow rise in a thousand tiny rivulets, converging 
from every part of the landscape, even erotic passion will cut a deeper 
channel, instead of breaking forth, as it now too often does, like a 
flash flood that spreads ruin to the lovers and in a short while leaves 
behind the same arid waste it had suddenly overwhelmed. Love is not 



simply the insidious potion, the almost morbid poison, Tristan and 
Iseult found it: love, conscious and unconscious, is the daily food of 
all living creatures: the means of living, the proof of their capacity 
to liv^, the ultimate blessing of their life. The final criticism of West- 
ern civilization, as it has developed these last four centuries, is that 
ifchas produced the sterile, loveless world of the machine: hostile to 
life and now capable, if modern man’s compulsive irrationalities in- 
crease, of bringing all life to an end. To open the way to love, by a score 
of daily acts, is the first step toward integration: not salvation merely 
through orgasms, but the possibility of creative fulfillment through 
an ever-widening partnership with life. 


One phase of civilization does not replace another as a unit, in the 
way that a guard assigned to sentry duty takes over its post. For a 
while they mingle confusedly, until a moment comes when one realizes 
that the entire scene has changed and all the actors are different. So 
with the internal change that will produce the new person. After a 
transition period a critical point will come when it will be plain that 
the new personality has at last matured and that those who wear a 
different mask look oddly antiquated and are ‘‘out of the picture.” 
Though the object of this change is to make possible a new drama of 
culture, no one who understands the social process would pretend to 
write the lines or to describe, in any detail, the action and plot; for 
it is part of the very nature of the living drama that these things must 
be left to the actors. If here and there, I have ventured to anticipate 
the next moves, it is only because the first steps have already been 

How shall one describe the balanced man and woman, considered 
as an ideal type? Let me begin with a negative description. He no 
longer belongs exclusively to a single culture, identifies himself with 
a single area of the earth, or conceives himself as in possession, through 
his religion or his science, of an exclusive key to truth; nor does he 
pride himself on his race or his nationality, as if the accidents of birth 
were in some way specially laudable: that democratic parody of an- 
cient feudal pride. His roots in his region, his family, his neighbor- 
hood will be deep, and that depth itself will be a tie with other men: 
but one part of his nature stays constantly in touch with the larger 

the way and the life 


world through both his religion and his politics, and remains open to 
its influences and its demands. 

The balanced man has the mobility of the migratory worker of the 
nineteenth century without his rootlessness: he has the friendliness 
toward people of other cultures that we see most admirably in the 
native Hawaiian; and with the habits so engendered goes a lessen!^ 
of his conceit over what is exclusively indigenous. With respect to his 
own region, he observes two rules: first he cultivates every part of it to 
its utmost, not merely because it is near and dear, but because it can 
thus contribute its specialties and individualities to other places and 
peoples; and second, when he finds his own region deficient in what is 
essential for full human growth, he reaches out, to the ends of the 
earth if need be, to bring into it what is missing — seeking the best and 
making it his own, as Emerson and Thoreau, in little Concord, reached 
out for the Hindu and Persian classics. 

Into the balance of the new man, accordingly, will go elements that 
are not native to his race, his culture, his region, even if the place he 
identifies himself with be as large and multifarious as Europe. The 
savor of his own idiosyncrasy and individuality will be brought out, 
rather than lessened, by this inclusiveness. So in him the old divisions 
between townsman and countryman, between Greek and barbarian, 
between Christian and pagan, between native and outlander, between 
Western civilization and Eastern civilization, will be softened and in 
time effaced. Instead of the harsh and coarse contrasts of the past, there 
will be rich fusions and blendings, with the strength and individuality 
that good hybrids so often show: this one- world intermixture will but 
carry further a process visible in the rise of most earlier civilizations. 

The change that will produce the balanced man will perhaps occur 
first in the minds of the older generation: but it is the young who will 
have the audacity and courage to carry it through. In any event, the 
new person is, to begin with, one who has honestly confronted his own 
life, has digested its failures and been re-activated by his awareness 
of his sins, and has re-oriented his purposes. If need be, he has made 
public acknowledgment of such errors as involved any considerable 
part of his community. What has gone wrong outside himself he ac- 
cepts as part and parcel of what has gone wrong within himself: but 
similarly, where in his own life he has had a fresh vision of the good 
or has given form to truth or beauty, h^ is eager to share it with his 



The capital act of the new man is an assumption of responsibility: 
he does not transfer the blame for his personal misfortunes to his par- 
ents, his elders, his associates, his circumstances: he refuses to make 
his own burden lighter by treating himself as a victim of processes 
over which he could have no control, even when he has innocently 
suffered: for he knows that in the moral life future intentions are 
more significant than past causes. On the map that science and ob- 
jective investigation supply him, he superimposes his own plan of 
life. So the balanced person treats his own situation, however formid- 
able or threatening, as the raw material he must master and mold. 
But his humility, born of self-awareness, has another side to it: con- 
fidence in his own powers of creation. 

Confidence in creation: a sense of the rich potentialities of life and 
of endless alternatives, beyond those that the immediate moment or 
the immediate culture offers. Confidence in creation, as opposed to the 
fixations, the rigidities, the narrow alternatives of the existing eco- 
nomic systems and cultural schemes: yes, here precisely is the deepest 
difference between the new person and the old, who gave to external 
conditions and external stimuli the initiative that living organisms and 
above all living persons must keep for themselves. Those who have 
this confidence are not afraid to break with the existing patterns, how- 
ever compulsive and authoritative they may seem; and they are not 
afraid to make departures on radically different lines, merely because 
they may meet with rebuff or failure. Such confidence once existed in 
a high degree among the great industrialists who girdled the planet 
with railroad lines, steamships, ocean cables, and factories; and those 
whose task it is to build a new world on the ruins of our disintegrating 
civilization must have that faith in even fuller measure. The new per- 
son, because he has not feared to transform himself, is capable of 
facing the world in a similar mood of adventurous amelioration. 

Only those who have confronted the present crisis in all its dimen- 
sions will have the strength to repent of their own sins and those of 
their community, to confront and overcome the evils that threaten us, 
and to re-affirm the goods of the past that will serve as foundation for 
the goods of the future that we have still to create. For those who have 
undergone these changes, life is good and the expansion and intensi- 
fication of life is good. To live actively through every organ and still 
remain whole: to identify oneself loyally with the community and yet 
to emerge from it, with free choices and new goals: to live fully in 
the moment and to possess in that moment all that eternity might 



bring: to re-create in one’s consciousness the whole in which man lives 
and moves and has his being — ^these are essential parts of the new 
affirmation of life. The rest lies with God. 

Without fullness of experience, length of days is nothing. When 
fullness of life has been achieved, shortness of days is nothing. That 
is perhaps why the young, before they have been frustrated and lame^, 
have usually so little fear of death: they live by intensities that the 
elderly have forgotten. 

This experience of fulfillment through wholeness is the true answer 
to the brevity of man’s days. The awakened person seeks to live so that 
any day might be good enough to be his last. By the actuarial tables 
he knows, perhaps, that his expectation of life at birth is almost three 
score and ten; but he knows something more precious than this: that 
there are moments of such poignant intensity and fullness, moments 
when every part of the personality is mobilized into a single act or a 
single intuition, that they outweigh the contents of a whole tame life- 
time. Those moments embrace eternity; and if they are fleeting, it is 
because men remain finite creatures whose days are measured. 

When these awakened personalities begin to multiply, the load of 
anxiety that hangs over the men of our present-day culture will per- 
haps begin to lift. Instead of gnawing dread, there will be a healthy 
sense of expectancy, of hope without self-deception, based upon the 
ability to formulate new plans and purposes: purposes which, because 
they grow out of a personal reorientation and renewal, will in time 
lead to the general replenishment of life. Such goals will not lose 
value through the changes that time and chance and the wills of other 
men will work on them, in the course of their realization; nor will 
the prospect of many delays and disappointments keep those who are 
awakened from putting them into action at the earliest opportunity. 
Nothing is unthinkable, nothing impossible to the balanced person, 
provided it arises out of the needs of life and is dedicated to life’s 
further development. 

Even in his most rational procedures, the balanced person allows a 
place for the irrational and the unpredictable: he knows that catastro- 
phe and miracle are both possible. Instead of feeling frustrated by 
these uncontrollable elements, he counts upon them to quicken the 
adventure of life by their very unforeseeableness: they are but part 
of the cosmic weather whose daily challenge enlivens every activity. 

Life is itself forever precarious and unstable, and in no manner 
does it promise a tame idyll or a static eutopia: the new person, no 



less than the old, will know baflBlement, tragedy, sacrifice, and defeat, 
as well as fulfillment — ^but even in desperate situations he will be 
saved from despair by sharing Walt Whitman’s consciousness that 
battles may be lost in the same spirit that they are won, and that a 
courageous effort consecrates an unhappy end. While the conditions 
be confronts are formidable, the initiative nevertheless remains with 
man, once he accepts his own responsibility as a guardian of life. With 
the knowledge man now possesses, he may control the knowledge that 
threatens to choke him: with the power he now commands he may 
control the power that would wipe him out: with the values he has 
created, he may replace a routine of life based upon a denial of val- 
ues. Only treason to his own sense of the divine can rob the new per- 
son of his creativity. 

Harsh days and bitter nights may still lie ahead for each of us in 
his own person, and for mankind as a whole, before we overcome the 
present forces of disintegration. But throughout the world, there is a 
faint glow of color on the topmost twigs, the glow of the swelling buds 
that announce, despite the frosts and storms to come, the approach of 
spring: signs of life, signs of integration, signs of a deeper faith for 
living and of an approaching general renewal of humanity. The day 
and the hour are at hand when our individual purposes and ideals, re- 
enforced by our neighbors’, will unite in a new drama of life that 
will serve other men as it serves ourselves. 

The way we must follow is untried and heavy with difficulty; it will 
test to the utmost our faith and our powers. But it is the way toward 
life, and those who follow it will prevail. 


As with The Condition of Man, the ground covered by this book is almost as 
large as life; and a reasonably full bibliography might prove as big as the book 
itself. So in obedience to my own thesis, I have confined the bibliography to a 
fair sample, aiming at balance rather than exhaustiveness. Though I have occa- 
sionally repeated significant books listed in The Condition of Man, many texts 
are cited only there, since the two books were conceived in 1940 as a unity. 

Adams, Henry: The Education of Henry Adams, Privately printed: 1907. New 
York: 1918. 

The Degradation of the Democratic Dogma. New York: 1919. 

The method was faulty; but the intuitions about the approaching age accurate and 

Aldrich, Charles Roberts: The Primitive Mind and Modern Civilization; with 
an Introduction by Bronislaw Malinowski and a foreword by C. G. Jung. 
New York: 1931. 

Though the author sets store by a very doubtful racial unconscious and a gregarious 
instinct, this is a fruitful discussion of the survival of the primitive in the modern. 

Alexander, F. Matthias: The Use of the Self; with an Introduction by Professor 
John Dewey. London: 1932. 

The Universal Constant in Living. London: 1942. 

Alexander, S.: Space, Time, and Deity. 2 vols. London; 1920. 

Ali, A. Yusuf: The Message of Islam; Being a Resume of the teachings of the 
Qur-an; with special reference to the spiritual and moral struggles of the 
human soul. London: 1940. 

Sympathetic epitome. 

Allport, Gordon Willard: Attitudes. In Handbook of Social Psychology, edited 
by Carl Murchison. Worcester: 1935. 

Personality. New York; 1937. 

' Important. 

Angyal, Andras: Foundations for a Science of Personality. New York: 1941. 
Excellent early part, in which the author attempts a non-dualistic description of the 
body-mind process, in relation to the implicated environment, though in his definition 
of autonomy and homonomy as the principal trends of development the dualism im- 
plicit in our language limits his analysis. 


294 the conduct of life 

Anshen, Ruth Nanda (editor) : Science and Man: Twenty-four Original Essays. 
New York: 1942. 

Including admirable summaries of their essential positions by Malinowski, Cannon, 



Arendt, Hannah: The Origins of Totalitarianism. New York: 1951. 

A^old, Matthew: Saint Paul and Protestantism. London: 1883. 


Babbage, Charles; The Ninth Bridgewater Treatise; a Fragment. London: 1838. 
Mathematical argument for ‘‘miracles” and for design, by the redoubtable mathema- 
tician who made the first practical “calculating engine” for handling complex mathe- 
matical operations: the Victorian beginning of cybernetics. 

Babbitt, Irving: Rousseau and Romanticism. New York: 1919. 

Democracy and Leadership. New York: 1924. 

The reactionary elements in Babbitt’s thought should not obscure his many salutary 

Bailey, J. 0.: Pilgrims Through Space and Time; Trends and Patterns in Sci- 
entific and Utopian Fiction. New York: 1947. 

Bardet, Gaston: Polyphonic Organization. In News-sheet of the International 
Federation for Housing and Town Planning. Amsterdam: Nov. 1950. 
Outline of an organic reorganization of work, as applied to city design. See Bishop. 

Barlow, Kenneth E.: The Discipline of Peace. London: 1942. 

The State of Public Knowledge. London: 1946. 

A physician’s original reflections on the processes of thought in our society. 

Barnett, L. D.: The Path of Light; a Manual of Maha-Yana Buddhism. Wisdom 
of the East Series. New York: 1909. 

Barr, Stringfellow: The Pilgrimage of Western Man. New York: 1949. 

Western history since 1500, focused on the emergence of world government. Curiously 
omits reference to the unifying effects of missionary enterprise, trade, and political 
imperialism, without which the conditions for world government would hardly have 

Barrows, John Henry (editor) : The Worleys Parliament of Religions. 2 vols. 
Chicago: 1893. 

An epoch-making event, recording the high point of nineteenth century universalism. 

Beam, Kenneth S. (Editor) : The Family Log. With foreword by Lewis Mum- 
ford. San Diego, CaL: 1948. 

A pamphlet setting forth methods and objectives of making family records, on 
lines suggested in chapter on The Culture of the Family in my Faith for Living. 

Bergson, Henri: Creative Evolution. New York: 1913. 

An original interpretation. But see Lloyd Morgan. 

Bews, John William: Human Ecology. New York: 1935. 

Bishop, Claire Huchet: All Things Common. New York: 1950. 

Description of a new wave of producers’ co-operatives in Europe: notably the Boi- 
mondau scheme. 



Bloch, Oscar: V om Tode: Eine Gemeinsverstandliche Darstellung. 2 vol^. Stutt- 
gart: 1909. 

Boole, Mary Everest: Collected Works, 4 vols. Edited by E. M. Cobham. London : 

As an educator and a moralist Mrs Boole was worthy to stand alongside those other 
erratic geniuses, James Hinton and Charles Peirce: minds of high originality. See espe- 
cially Logic Taught by Love, Vol. II, and The Forging of Passion into Power, VoL FT. 

Borgese, G. A.: Common Cause. New York: 1943. 

Goliath: the March of Fascism. New York: 1937. 

See Committee to Frame a World Constitution. 

Borsodi, Ralph: Education and Living. 2 vols. The School of Living: Suffern, 
New York: 1948. 

Attempt to work out in systematic detail the precepts of the philosophy first expressed, 
as criticism, in This Ugly Civilization; decentralism, household economy, self-help, 
and soil regeneration. 

Bradley, F. H. : ^ ppearance and Reality. London : 1893. 


Branford, Victor: Science and Sanctity. London: 1923. 

Living Religions: a Plea for the Larger Modernism. London: 1924. 

An attempt to find working basis of unity between Eastern and Western interpreta- 
tions of religion. See also Northrop. 

Breasted, James H.: The Dawn of Conscience. New York: 1939. 

Origins of morality in Egypt; highly relevant. 

Brinton, Crane: The Anatomy of Revolution. New York: 1938. 

Brochmann, Georg: Humanity and Happiness. New York: 1950. 

A human document as well as a philosophic inquiry into the paradoxical nature and 
terms of happiness. Recommended. 

Brownell, Baker: The Philosopher in Chaos. New York: 1941. 

The Human Community. New York: 1950. 

Buber, Martin: 1 and Thou. First ed. 1923. Edinburgh: 1937. , 

Already something of a classic: on the need for recognizing the intimate and the per- 
sonal in social relations. 

Between Man and Man. London: 1947. 

Further application of the *T-and-Thou” principle: particularly notable in two essays 
on education, and in the philosophical “anthropology” essay. What Is Man? 

Bucke, Richard: Cosmic Consciousness; a Study in the Evolution of the Human 
Mind. New York: 1901. 

Burckhardt, Jacob: Force and Freedom; Reflections on History. New York; 1943. 
Translation of the W eltgeschichtliche Betrachtungen, ably edited by James Nichols. 
For the depth of his intuitions, as well as for the scope of his thought, Burckhardt 
stands first among the modern philosophers of history. Even his errors were fertile: 
witness the effect of his mainly erroneous conception of the Renascence in stirring up 
scholarly effort in this department. But his truths were too profound to be assimilated 
by the archivists and historiographers, who dismissed him, in his own lifetime, for not 
interrupting his original sentences in order to cross his t’s. See also Henry Adams and 



Burrow, Trigant: The Social Basis of Consciousness; a Study in Organic Psy- 
chology Based upon a Synthetic and Societal Concept of the Neuroses, 
New York; 1927, 

The Neurosis of Man; an Introduction to the Science of Human Behavior, 
New York; 1949. 

An attempt to explain the radical defects of civilization as the result of the departure 
from the natural whole responses of the organism to the partial responses focused in 
an I-Persona. This thesis is put forward in a private, I-Persona vocabulary which con- 
tains some 69 private new terms. An attempt to find an elementalist clue to disorders 
•which must be sought on higher levels. But no one who feels impelled to accept the 
thesis of The Conduct of Life should avoid testing its weaknesses against Dr Bur- 
row’s counter-thesis. 

Bury, J. B. : The Idea of Progress, London: 1920. 

Butler, Samuel: Life and Habit. First ed. London: 1877. 

An early statement of the possible relation between habit, instinct, and biological in- 
heritance. Long discredited in conventional scientific circles, because it explains the 
“simple” in terms of the complex, it will probably rank as a primitive classic in the 
organic science that is stiU to emerge. See Schrodinger. 

Unconscious Memory: First ed. London: 1880. Re-issued London: 1922, 
Follows up the trail opened in Life and Habit by reference to work of Hartmann on 
the Unconscious; anticipates the later concepts of the mneme by Semon. See Marcus 
Hartog’s introduction on the significance of Butler’s work to biological science, now 
acknowledged by many eminent biologists. 

Campbell, Lewis and Garnett, W. : Life of James Clerk Maxwell. London: 1882. 

Cantril, Hadley: The ^Why” of Man’s Experience. New York: 1950. 

Draws heavily on the experiments and interpretations of Adelbert Ames on the nature 
of sensations and perceptions. See La'wrence. 

Cassirer, Ernst: An Essay on Man; An Introduction to a Philosophy of Human 
Culture. New Haven; 1944. 

Casson, Stanley: Progress and Catastrophe; an Anatomy of Human Adventure. 
New York: 1937. 

Modest but penetrating. 

Channing, William EUery; Channing Day by Day. Boston: 1948. 

Selections from* writings of a great Christian universalist, alert to the dangers of 
statism and nationalism. 

Chesterton, Gilbert Keith: What’s Wrong with the World. London: 1904. 

Child, Charles M.: The Physiological Foundations of Behavior. New York; 1924. 

Chrow, Lawrence B. and Loos, A. William (Editors) : The Nature of Man; His 
World; His Spiritual Resources; His Destiny. New York (The Church 
Peace Union) : 1950. 

Synopsis of series of lectures from scholars in many fields, aiming to present a unified 
view of man. 

Chuang Tzu: Musings of a Chinese Mystic; Selections from the Philosophy of 
Chuang Tzu. In Wisdom of the East Series. London: 1906. 

A text, mainly Taoist, at which various hands have been at work. See Hughes, E. R. 


Coates, J. B.: The Crisis of the Human Person; Some Personalist Interpretations. 
London: 1949. 

Study of a group of writers, allied to personalism or, like James Burnham, antaconistic 
to its principles. i 

Coghill, G. E. Anatomy and the Problems of Behavior, Cambridge: 1929. 
Important. Corrective of the simplism of the Watsonian “behaviorists.” 

Collingwood, Robin George: Speculum Mentis; or. The Map of Knowledge. 
Oxford: 1924. 

An Autobiography. New York: 1939. 

Perspicuous on the neutral, self-deflating academicism of British and American 

Religion and Philosophy, London: 1916. 

Penetrating: more important than many later hooks on same theme. 

Committee to Frame a World Constitution, The: Preliminary Draft of a World 
Constitution. Chicago: 1949. 

One of several score postwar efforts: probably in every way the most significant, 
through the quality of mind at work and the realistic grasp and imaginative insight 
shown in attacking some of the most difficult problems: above all, the needful balance 
and dispersion of power, for which the Committee presents a striking solution. The 
result of two years’ effort, and continued application in the current review, Common 
Cause. Highly recommended. 

Confucius: The Analects of Confucius, Translated and annotated by Arthur 
Waley. London: 1938. 

Conklin, Edwin Grant: The Direction of Human Evolution. New York: 1921. 
Man, Real and Ideal; Observations and Reflections on Man’s Nature, Devel- 
opment and Destiny. New York: 1943. 

Cooley, Charles Horton: Life and the Student; Roadside Notes on Human Na- 
ture, Society, and Letters. New York: 1927. 

The life wisdom of a great American sociologist. 

Coster, Geraldine: Yoga and Western Psychology. London: 1934. 

Cranston, Ruth: World Faith; the Story of the Religions of the United Nations. 
New York: 1949. 

Croce, Benedetto: History as the Story of Liberty. London: 1921. 

The Conduct of Life. New York: 1924. 

Vitiated by the author’s dualism between the practical and the esthetic. The moral 
and the political are not organically reconciled by his Hegelisms. 

Politics and Morals. New York: 1945. 

Curtis, Lionel: Civitas Dei. 3 vols. London: 1934-1937. 

A compendium of history seen as the growth of commonwealth. Final hope for world 
government via an English-speaking union to begin with. 

D’Arcy, M. C., SJ.: The Mind and Heart of Love; Lion and Unicorn; a Study 
in Eros and Agape. New York: 1947. 

Excellent, with a double illumination from analytic psychology and Christian theology. 
Das, Bhagavan: The Essential Unity of All Religions. Second ed, enlarged. 
Benares: 1939. 

Significant and useful. 


Davies, Blodwen, and Reiser, Oliver L, Planetary Democracy: an Introduction 
to Scientific Humanism and Applied Semantics. New York: 1944. 

A little naive, but headed in the right direction. 

Dewey, John: Moral Principles in Education. New York: 1909. 

Rejects teaching about morals in favor of situational moral decisions. Hence it takes 
for granted the validity of existing conventions and principles so applied. In this little 
book of an early date both the strength and weakness of Dewey’s philosophy are 
neatly revealed. 

Reconstruction in Philosophy. New York: 1920. 

Human Nature and Conduct; an Introduction to Philosophy. New York: 1922. 


Experience and Nature. Chicago: 1925.' 

The Quest for Certainty; a Study of the Relation of Knowledge and Action. 

(Gifford Lectures.) New York: 1929. 

A Common Faith. (The Terry Lectures.) New Haven: 1934. 

The Problems of Men. New York: 1946. 

Collected essays relating to the central themes of Dewey’s thought: democracy, educa- 
tion, logic, and value. 

Dilthey, Wilhelm: Gesammelte Schriften. 11 vols. Leipzig: 1921-1936. 

See especially Bde. 2 and 5-6. Cf. Hodges. Though Dilthey had no formative effect 
on my own thought or that of Ortega y Gasset, our late discovery of him brought 
the pleasure of confirmation. 

Doman, Nicholas: The Coming Age of World Control. New York: 1942. 

Driesch, Hans: Man and the Universe. New York: 1929. 

Mind and Body. New York: 1927. 

Drummond, Henry: Natural Law in the Spiritual World. New York: 1887. 
Ellis, Havelock: The Dance of Life. New York: 1923. 

Emerson, Ralph Waldo: Essays: First Series. Boston: 1841. 

Essays: Second Series. Boston: 1844. 

The Conduct of Life. Boston: 1860. 

Society and Solitude. Boston: 1870. 

The essay on Domestic Life is classic. 

Journals: 10 vols. Boston: 1908. 

Among the handful of moralists who have affected Western culture, and who may 
continue to affect it, I would rank Emerson — pace Matthew Arnold! —higher than 
Epictetus or Marcus Aurelius: for his crystalline vision and his sense of life’s capacity 
for self -renewal. But it is impossible to choose among his works: his best passages are 
everywhere. There is little that is healthy in Nietzsche that was not first expressed in 
Emerson, whose influence Nietzsche acknowledged. Not the least important of his 
thoughts are those that were left over in his Journals. 

Farquhar, J. N.: Modern Religious Movements in India. New York: 1924. 

Fitzpatrick, Edward A. (Editor) : St. Ignatius and the Ratio Studiorum. New 
York: 1933. 

Flewelling, Ralph Tyler; The Survival of Western Culture. New York: 1943. 
Recommended. Flewelling used the term “personalism” to characterize his philosophy 
long before Mounier. 



Fliigel, J. C.; Man, Morals and Society. London: 1945. 

Forman, Henry James: The Story of Prophecy in the Life of Mankind from 
Early Times to the Present Day. New York: 1936. 

Fouillee, Alfred J. E.: Morale de^ I dees Forces. Paris: 1908. 

Frank, Waldo: The Re-Discovery of America. New York: 1929. 

Penetrating interpretation and prophecy: a challenge that met no response from tL^ 
generation it addressed. Almost alone in his generation in America, Waldo Frank 
understood from the first the mission of religion: not as a genteel archaism that prom- 
ises salvation from Wasteland, but as a living experience. 

Chart for Rough Waters. New York: 1940. 

South American Journey. New York: 1944. 

Frank’s interpretation of the organic contribution of more “primitive” cultures — 
often more highly developed in values than our own — ^is uniquely good. 

Freud, Sigmund: The Interpretation of Dreams. London: 1913. 

Probably Freud’s most original and significant work. 

The Future of an Illusion. London: 1928. 

Discussion of what Freud means by religion; so arbitrary that even close disciples, 
like Dr. Gregory Zilboorg, reject it. See Jung. 

Civilization and Its Discontents: New York: 1930. 

Exposition of Freud’s theory of an instinct toward destruction and death, to account 
for the aggressiveness of man and the transposition of that aggressiveness into moral 
conduct. Suggestive but superficial. 

New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis. New York: 1933. 

A re-statement of his whole psychological position. 

An Outline of Psychoanalysis. New York: 1949. 

Translation of the 1940 German edition: a final testament that does not alter Freud’s 
original position. 

Fromm, Erich. Escape from Freedom. New York: 1942. 

Man for Himself; an Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics. New York: 1947. 
Psychoanalysis and Religion. New Haven: 1950. 

Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand: Gandhis Autobiography. Washington: 1948. 
Gardiner, H. M.: Feeling and Emotion; a History of Theories. New York: 1937. 
Geddes, Patrick: The Anatomy of Life. In Sociological Review. Jan. 1927. 

Geddes, Patrick, and Thomson, J. Arthur: Life; Outlines of Biology. New 
York: 1931. 

A rich compendium, both of biological science, and of the authors’ fundamental philos- 
ophy of life in all its dimensions. 

Geisser, Franz: Mo Ti: Der Kiinder der Allgemeinen Menschenliebe. Berne: 1947. 
Excellent study of Mo Ti and afliliated thinkers in the development of a study of the 
universal ethics of humanity. 

Ghose, Aurohindo (Sri Aurobindo) : The Life Divine. 2 vols. in 3. Calcutta: 

Giedion, Sigfried: Mechanization Takes Command. New York; 1948. 

An original study of remarkable scholarly acuity and a wealth of concrete detail never 
before systematically put together, but with a certain underlying ambiguity of evalu- 
ation, See Mumford: Technics and Civilization. 


Gillin, John: The Ways of Men; an Introduction to Anthropology. New York: 

Particularly good on the biological and psychological side. See Kroeber, Linton, 

Goldstein, Kurt: Human Nature in the Light of Psychopathology, Cambridge, 
Mass.: 1940. 

An holistic study by an eminent brain specialist, emphasizing abstraction, freedom, 
and self-restriction as essential characteristics of human conduct at its higher levels. 

The Organism. New York: 1939. 

Graham, Michael: Human Needs. London: 1951. 

A biologist’s analysis of those long-established habit-patterns that condition man’s 
further development. Full of human insight and sense. 

Gratry, A.: La Morale et la Loi d^histoire, 2 vols. Paris: 1874. 

Logic, Chicago: 1946. 

Regarded by Boole as a classic contribution on the subject; particularly notable be- 
cause of the human insight shown into the actual discipline and hygiene of the mind. 
Highly recommended. 

Gray, Alexander: The Socialist Tradition; Moses to Lenin. New York: 1946. 

Guerard, Albert Leon: A Short History of the International Language Move- 
ment. London: 1922. 

Best introduction to this subject. 

Haldane, J, S.: Mechanism, Life, and Personality: an Examination of the 
Mechanistic Theory of Life and Mind. New York: 1921. 

Exposition of the inadequacies of the mechanistic postulates and an excellent state- 
ment of a philosophic basis of personalism long before Mounier’s school of person- 
alists was heard from. But Haldane’s subjective idealism vitiates his statement. The 
author is not to be confused with his brilliant but less profound — ^to speak kindly — 
Marxian son. 

The Sciences and Philosophy, New York: 1930. 

Gifford lectures elaborating the philosophy set forth in Mechanism, Life, and Person- 
ality. Unfortunately, in reacting against the misplaced materialism of conventional sci- 
ence, Haldane espouses an equally indefensible idealism that holds that “the real 
universe is the spiritual universe in which spiritual values count for everything.” If 
real means “actual” this is nonsense. 

Halliday, James L.: Psychosocial Medicine. New York: 1948. 

Analysis of psychosomatic disorders in contemporary civilization, showing contradictions 
between rising physical and lowered psycho-social health. Needs further expansion in 

Harrison, Jane Ellen: Ancient Art and Ritual. New York: 1922. 

Brief but important. 

Haskell, Edward H., Wade, Burton, and Pergament, Jerome: Co-Action Com- 
pass; A General Conceptual Scheme Based Upon the Independent Sys- 
tematizafdon of Co-actions Among Plants by Cause, Animals by Haskell, 
and Men by Moreno, Lundberg, Honing and Others. New York: 1948. 
Compare Geddes’s diagrams in Life; Outlines of Biology. Vol. H. 

Heard, Gerald: Is God Evident? New York: 1948. 

Essay in Natural Theology: all the better because the author attempts to do justice 
to Hindu as well as Christian insights. Possibly the best of Heard’s hooka. 



Heard, Gerald: Is God in History? An Inquiry into Human and Prehuman 
History, in Terms of the Doctrine of Creation, Fall, and Redemption. New 
York: 1950. 

Unconvincing. For the more classic, Christian view, see the works of Reiniiold Nie- 
buhr, especially The Nature and Destiny of Man. 

Heidegger, Martin: Existence and Being. London: 1949. 

Four essays in logomachy, with a long introduction by Werner Brock. 

Henderson, Lawrence J.: The Order of Nature. Cambridge: 1925. 

Contains Clerk-Maxwell’s paper on Singular Points. 

The Fitness of the Environment. New York: 1924. 


Herrick, C. Judson: Neurological Foundations of Animal Behavior. New York:^ 

Brains of Rats and Men; a Survey of the Origin and Biological Significance 
of the Cerebral Cortex. Chicago: 1926. 

Hindu Scriptures: Hymns from the Rigveda, Five U panishads, the Bhagavadgita. 
Edited by Nicol Macnicol. London: 1938. 

One of the most useful editions of the Hindu classics; though I prefer other transla- 
tions of the Gita. 

Hinton, James: Man and His Dwelling Place; an Essay Towards the Interpret 
tation of Nature. London: 1861. 

Life in Nature. First ed. 1862. London: 1932. 

The Mystery of Pain; a Book for the Sorrowful. New York: 1872. 

Flashes of great intuitive insight, by a thinker whose central thoughts are closer to 
our time than they were to his own. 

Hobhouse, Leonard T. : Development and Purpose; an Essay Towards a Philos- 
ophy of Evolution. London: 1913. 

Important. Though the argument is not always adequately illustrated and carried 
through, the main lines of it are admirable and the date is notable. See Urban and 

The Rational Good. London: 1921. 

Hocking, William Ernest: Human Nature and Its Remaking. First ed. 1918. 
New Haven: 1923. 

Uneven in texture and over-influenced perhaps by the then current psychology of in- 
stincts; but remarkably sound in its essentials. Compare with Marxian doctrine that 
human nature is made and re-made by self-determined economic institutions. 

The Self; Its Body and Freedom. New Haven: 1928. 

One of the best philosophic discussions of this subject. 

Living Religions and a World Faith. New York: 1940. 

Excellent discussion of the local and universal tendencies in religion, with an un- 
usual grasp of the significance of the non-Christian faiths. See Sdderblom. 

Hodges, H. A.: Wilhelm Dilthey; an Introduction. London: 1944. 


Holding, Harald: The Philosophy of Religion, London: 1914. 

Homans, George C.: The Human Group. New York: 1950. 

Utilizes case liistories and contemporary studies to carry further the original work 
of Charles Horton Cooley. The perspicuous formulation of theory further validates 
the direct data. 


Hopkins, E. Washburn: Origin and Evolution of Religion, New Haven: 1923. 

Better than Salomon Reinach’s Orpheus. 

Hoyle, Fred: The Nature of the Universe. Oxford: 1950. 

BBC talks by a mathematical physicist giving most recent astronomical picture of the 
universe. On his interpretation the universe, so far from running down, is in a con- 
stant state of creation — out of nothing. 

Hughes, E. C.: Personality Types and The Division of Labor. In American 
Journal of Sociology. Vol. 33: 1928. 

Hughes, E. R. (editor and translator) : Chinese Philosophy in Classical Times. 
New York: 1942. 

An excellent selection, beginning with the Book of Odes and presenting the very es- 
sence of Confucianism and Taoism in a series of generous selections. Indispensable. 

Huizinga, Jan: Homo Ludens; a Study of the Play Element in Culture. Lon- 
don: 1949. 

Philosophic discussion of function of play as an essential characteristic of man. 

Hutchins, Robert M. See C(?mmittee to Frame a World Constitution. 

Huxley, Aldous: The Perennial Philosophy. New York: 1945. 

Selections and commentary on the religious interpretation of life, mainly from the 
mystical side. 

Huxley, Julian S.: Evolutionary Ethics. Oxford: 1943. 

Man Stands Alone. New York: 1941. 

Jaeger, Werner: Paideia: the Ideals of Greek Culture. 3 vols. New York: 1939- 

Profound study of education in the most comprehensive sense, derived from the ex- 
perience and thought of the most educated people in history. Not least valuable be- 
cause of its presentation of remoter thinkers and poets like Hesiod and Tyrtaeus. In- 

James, William: Essays in Radical Empiricism. New York: 1912. 

The best of James as philosopher. 

Pragmatism. New York: 1909. 

And the worst. 

The Will to Believe. New York: 1897. 

See especially the final pages of the final essay. 

Janet, Paul (Alexandre Rene) : Final Causes. Edinburgh: 1878. 

One of the best nineteenth century discussions, which won the approbation of such 
a keen thinker as Professor Robert Flint, who wrote an introduction for this translation. 
The Theory of Morals. New York: 1892. 

Janet, Pierre; Psychological Healing; a Historical and Clinical Study. 2 vols. 
New York; 1925. 

A scholarly, many-sided survey of the various contradictory arts for treating mental 

Jennings, Herbert Spencer: The Universe and Life. New Haven: 1933. 

Philosophic testament of a great biblogist. See J. S. Haldane, Lloyd Morgan, Pat- 
rick Geddes, et aL 

Jespersen, Otto: Language; Its Nature, Development and Origin. New York: 

Profound scholarship plus human insight. 



Johnson, Martin: Art and Scientific Thought; Historical Studies Towards a 
Modern Revision of Their Antagonism. London: 1944. 

Johnson, Wendell: People in Quandaries; the Semantics of Personal Adjustment. 
New York: 1946. 

Application of Korzybski’s semantic teaching to psychology. 

Jung, Carl Gustav: Psychological Types; or The Psychology of Individuation. 
New York: 1923. ^ 

Now famous division of types according to attitude and function. 

Modern Man in Search of a Soul. London: 1933. 

Psychology and Religion. New Haven: 1938. 

The Integration of the Personality. New York: 1939. 

Kafka, Franz: The Trial. New York: 1937. 

Fantasy of frustration of individual person in an impersonal and compulsive civilization. 
Classic expression of the plight of the person today. 

Kahler, Erich: Man the Measure. New York: 1945. 

A distinguished work of interpretation. Dr Kahler is now working on a study that 
should prove of great importance: on singular and non-repeating events in nature and 

Kallen, Horace M.: Why Religion? New York: 1927. 

Anti-church; yet with true insight into the positive role of religion. 

The Liberal Spirit. Ithaca, N. Y.: 1948. 

Kant, Immanuel: Perpetual Peace; a Philosophical Essay (1793). London: 

Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Ethics, (Selections from The 
Critique of Practical Reason.) New York: 1932. 

Kidd, Benjamin; Social Evolution. New York: 1894. 

One of the first sociological studies to weigh the importance and lasting significance 
of religion in society. 

Kierkegaard, S^ren; The Works of Love. First ed. 1848. Princeton: 1949. 

Fear and Trembling. First ed. 1921. Princeton: 1941. 

Kluckhohn, Clyde: Mirror of Man. New York: 1950. 

Kluckhohn, Clyde, and Murray, Henry A. (eds.) : Personality in Nature, Soci- 
ety, and Culture. New York: 1948. 

Excellent collection of recent essays with an important outline chapter on the concep- 
tion of Personality by the authors. See Murphy, Gardner, and Allport, Gordon. 

Koehler, Wolfgang; Place of Value in a World of Facts. New York: 1938. 

Admirable in intention; but the very title shows how difficult it is for one bred in the 
scientific tradition to re-state the problem. 

Koestler, Arthur: Insight and Outlook; an Inquiry into the Common Founda- 
tions of Science, Art, and Social Ethics. New York; 1949, 

A usually able, sometimes brilliant, improvisation; but still an improvisation. 

Kolnai, Aurel: The War Against the West. New York: 1938. 

The best critical compendium of National Socialist thought, both the relatively sane 
and the downright insane, to date. Not to be overlooked on the assumption that the 
physical defeat of Germany brings Nazism to an end. 



Korzybski, Alfred: Manhood of Humanity; the Science and Art of Human En- 
gineering. New York: 1921. 

Once extremely popular; but both naive and dated. The concept of a man as a time- 
binding animal put into a striking phrase an already familiar sociological concept. 
But see Science and Sanity. 

Science and Sanity: an Introduction to N on- Aristotelian Systems and General 
Semantics. Science Press, Lancaster: 1941. 

Original and important work. The first book I know to do adequate justice to the 
levels of meaning, including the unspeakable levels, to the multi-ordinal dimensions 
of every sign and symbol, and to the internal as well as the external aspects of objec- 
tivity. Unfortunately, Korzybski, in departing from Aristotelian logic, did not develop 
his system to a point at which he could include it in a fuller unity. 

Kroeber, A. L.: Configurations of Culture Growth. Berkeley: 1944. 

Significant analysis of the nature of culture growth. All the more valuable because 
made independent of the findings of Sorokin and Toynbee. 

Anthropology — Race; Language; Culture; Psychology; Prehistory. New 
York: 1948. 

Originally written in 1923, the present work has been completely re-written and radi- 
cally improved. In scholarship, in critical judgment, in philosophical breadth by far 
the best single study of man and his works that has appeared, with a vein of refresh- 
ing originality threading through the descriptions and generalizations. The summation 
of the life work of a great scholsir, endowed with wisdom as well as science. 

Kropotkin, Peter: Memoirs of a Revolutionist. New York: 1899. 

To be put beside Herzen and Gandhi. 

Mutual Aid; a Factor of Evolution. First ed. London: 1902. 

Written as reply to T. H. Huxley’s Nineteenth Century article on The Struggle for 
Existence (1888). Presents evidence of co-operative factors, deplorably absent from 
Victorian business, but obvious both in human history and animal development. By 
this classic statement and his equally original Fields, Factories and Workshops, 
Kropotkin established himself as one of the great seminal thinkers of our time: per- 
haps capable of counteracting Marx’s sinister emphasis on authority, mechanism, and 

Ethics; Origin and Development. New York: 1924. 

Historical study on which Kropotkin was working at the time of his death. Unfor- 
tunately, it lacks his own special contribution to the subject, except by way of criti- 
cism of the classical ethical theories. 

Krutch, Joseph Wood: The Modern Temper; a Study and a Confession. New 
York: 1929. 

A dignified rationalization of the despair and emptiness of our time: itself a classic 
expression of the Wasteland period. Useful as a balance to those who might take the 
philosophy of the present book too one-sidedly. 

Langer, Suzanne K.: Philosophy in a New Key; A Study in the Symbolism of 
Reason, Rite, and Art. New York: 1942. 

Brilliant, penetrating, often original, always provocative. Available now in Mentor 

Lao-Tse: Too Teh Ching: The Way of Life. Translated by Witter Bynner. New 
York: 1944. 

Classic statement of life according to nature, with a maximum of spontaneity and 
freedom. This translation is perhaps over-polished: see E. R. Hughes. 

Lawrence, Merle: Studies in Human Behavior; a Laboratory Manual. Prince- 
ton: 1949. 



Attempt to establish basic principles of individual and group behavior with emphasis 
on perception: so far the most satisfactory exposition and development of Adelbert 
Ames’s far-reaching experiments and interpretation on “sensation,” a work which 
thoroughly undermines the whole conception of a world built up on the basis of 
“pure” sensation, from Hume onward. ^ 

Lecky, William E. H. : The Map of Life; Conduct and Character, London: 1899. ~ 
Mediocre though well-intentioned. MacDougall drew on it for a somewhat better hook 
on character. 

Lee, Vernon (Viola Paget) : Gospels of Anarchy, London: 1908. 

Perspicuous analysis of nineteenth and twentieth century prophets, from Emerson to 

Althea: Dialogues on Aspirations and Duties, London: 1910. 

Lenin, Nicolai: Selected Works, New York: 1938. Vol. V: Imperialism and Im- 
perialist War, 

Based on pre-1914 interpretation; and historically inept — despite its wide popularity 
in communist and even liberal circles — ^in its inability to interpret the retreat from 
imperialism into isolationism which characterized the dominant capitalist states during 
this period. The wide parrot-like acceptance of Lenin’s thesis long common even in 
non-Marxian circles only emphasizes the current need for a revaluation of both the 
facts and the theories of imperialist enterprise. See Hannah Arendt. 

Vol. XI: Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, 

Upholds orthodox Marxism in interpreting the facts of current science, against Mach 
and the Neo-sensationists. Though Lenin’s metaphysics is of the soapbox variety, which 
causes him to reject arbitrarily any point of view other than the Marxian, some of his 
blows against the Machians are well aimed. 

Lepley, Ray (Editor) : Value; A Cooperative Inquiry, New York: 1949. 

Lewin, Kurt: A Dynamic Theory of Personality. Selected Papers, New York: 

Lewis, C. S.: The Problem of Pain. London: 1940. 

Linton, Ralph: The Study of Man; an Introduction. New York: 1936. 

An excellent summary; with a weather eye on the future that has too often been 
lacking in American sociological analysis. See also Kroeber, Gillin, and Malinowski. 
(Perspicuously dedicated, incidentally, “To the Next Gvilization.”) 

Loewenlhal, Max: Life and Soul: Outlines of a Future Theoretical Physiology 
and of a Critical Philosophy, London: 1934. 

MacDougall, William: Character and the Conduct of Life, New York: 1927. 
Practical counsel from a good psychologist but open to much revision even on medical 

Mackail, J. M.: Life of William Morris, 2 vols. New York: 1899. 

MacMurray, John: Reason and Emotion. London: 1935. 


The Structure of Religious Experience, New Haven: 1936. 

Maitra, Sushil Kumar: The Ethics of the Hindus, Calcutta: 1925. 

Major, H. D. A.: Basic Christianity; the World Religiori, London: 1945. 

To arrive at a creed simple enough to unite with other religions Mr Major empties 
Christianity of its historic meanings. 



Malinowski, Bronislaw: Freedom and Civilization. New York: 1944. 

Magic, Science and Religion. Boston : 1948. 


Mann,* Thomas : Past Masters and Other Papers. New York: 1933. 

Mannheim, Karl: Man and Society in an Age of Reconstruction; Studies in 
Modern Social Structure. New York: 1940. 

Diagnosis of Our Time. New York: 1944. 

Maritain, Jacques: True Humanism. London: 1939. 

Ransoming the Time. New York: 1941. 

Includes an excellent series of essays on Bergson’s metaphysics. 

The Rights of Man and Natural Law. New York: 1943. 

Application of personalism to constitutional law. 

The Person and the Common Good. New York: 1947. 

Marrett, Robert R.: Faith, Hope and Charity in Primitive Religion. New York: 

Head, Heart and Hands in Human Evolution. London: 1935. 


Marvin, F. S. (Editor): The Evolution of World Peace. Oxford: 1921. 

A volume in the well-conceived Unity Series, which uttered some of the best insights 
and hopes of the twentieth century, without suj0&cient anticipation of the forces of 
barbarism whose existence Spengler had already ominously pointed to. As in most 
other discussions of the subject of unity, neither technology nor imperialism are ade- 
quately canvassed, or indeed here canvassed at all. See H. G. Wells. 

May, Rollo: The Springs of Creative Living. New York: 1940. 

Meaning of Anxiety. New York: 1950. 

Mead, George Herbert: The Philosophy of the Act. Edited by Charles W. Morris. 
Chicago: 1938. 

Mead was surely one of the most original thinkers of his generation; but, being an 
oral communicator, he has been saved from oblivion mainly by the activity of his stu- 
dents. His work on roles, symbols, and forms of communication in development of 
self is classic. 

Melville, Herman: Moby-Dick. New York: 1851. 

Pierre; or. The Ambiguities. New York: 1852. 

A badly developed but significant novel, packed vdth distraught wisdom. 

Montague, William Pepperell: Belief Unbound; a Promethean Religion for the 
Modern World. New Haven: 1930. 

Lucid statement of the naturalistic grounds for both religion and ethics, honestly fac- 
ing the impossibility of reconciling an all-loving with an all-powerful God, yet show- 
ing the grounds for believing in an ^‘ascending force, a nisus, a thrust toward con- 
centration, organization, and life.” William James’s looser statement of this position, 
and Alexander’s more comprehensive but more abstract work on Deity lack the pre- 
cision and force of Montague’s. 

Moore, George Edward: Principia Ethica. First ed. 1903. Cambridge: 1929. 
Reduces ideal good to esthetic enjoyment, personal affection, and true knowledge. 
In preface Moore apologized for leaving out all consideration of purpose and end 
but he never rectified that omission. Influential through its weaknesses: otherwise 



More, Paul Elmer; The Skeptical Approach to Religion, Princeton; 1934. 

Moreno, Jacob L.; Who Shall Survive? A New Approach to the Problem of Hu- 
man Interrelations, Nervous and Mental Disease Monograph Series, No. 58. 
Washington; 1934. * 

An ingenious approach to exact observation in the psychological behavior of men in 
groups: an attempt to establish an ecology of the psyche. 

Psychodrama. VoL I. New York; 1946. 


Morgan, C. Lloyd; Habit and Instinct. New York; 1896. 

One of the earliest and happiest works of this philosophic biologist, but without the 
originality and the epistemological and verbal hurdles of his later volumes. Though 
there is no indication of his being influenced by Samuel Butler, he shared many of 
the latter’s insights and brought to them the authority of an experimental scientist. 
Emergent Evolution, New York; 1923. 

Li/e, Mind, and Spirit, New York: 1926. 

The second course of The Gifford Lectures, delivered under the general title of Emer- 
gent Evolution; and, with Wheeler’s brief exposition, the most satisfactory statement, 
in strictly natural history terms, of the general doctrine of emergence. 

Mind at the Crossways, New York; 1930. 

Closely reasoned presentation of the^ psychological and epistemological problems raised 
by the author’s general philosophy. 

Morris, Charles W.; The Paths of Life. New York; 1942. 

Important in outline if not in development. 

The Open Self. New York: 1948. 

Re-statement of ideas expressed in Paths of Life, in terms of the self. See Hocking 
for a more comprehensive and on the whole sounder treatment of the same problem. 

Mounier, Emmanuel: A Personalist Manifesto. New York: 1938. 

Central but not altogether satisfactory exposition. 

The Present Tasks of Personalism. Personalist Pamphlets. No. 4. London: 

Existentialist Philosophies: an Introduction. London; 1948. 

A useful Baedeker, which should convince the intelligent that there is no reason to 
take the journey. For those who will not be convinced, see Heidegger, Sartre, Wahl. 

Muller, Hermann J.: Out of the Night: A Biologist’s View of the Future. New 
York; 1935. 

Mumford, Lewis: The Story of Utopias. New York: 1926. 

The Golden Day; a Study of American Experience and Culture. New York: 

What I Believe. An essay in Living Philosophies, New York: 1930. 

Faith for Living. New York: 1940. 

An attempt to give a debunked and self-devaluated generation an elementary under- 
standing of the things men live and die for; the universal things, like Justice, Liberty, 
Truth, and the elemental primary things, like family, region, home. See Beam. 
Values for Survival; Essays on Politics and Education. New York: 1946. 
Includes the controversial essay on The Corruption of Liberalism first published in 
the New Republic in 1940 . The last third of the book' consists of a series of Letters 
to Germans, written originally at the request of the Ofldice of War Information, after 
Germany had been conquered, and scheduled by them for German publication. When 
the Army took over, publication in Germany was denied. This singular policy was 



doubtless the result of indoctrination in that school of German thought which assumed 
that Nazism was only a passing episode in German life. This illusion, fostered by those 
who too often exercised influence over Army education, is in no small part responsible 
for the radical mistakes the American government has made — and is still making — ^in 
rdation to Germany. 

Mumford, Lewis-: The Social Consequences of Atomic War. In Air Affairs, 
Washington: March 1947. 

Atomic Bomb: Miracle or Catastrophe, In Air Affairs. Washington: July 1948. 
Alternatives to Catastrophe. In Air Affairs. Washington: Spring 1950. 

This series of essays on the moral problems raised by the atomic bomb and the com- 
mitment to genocide followed Program for Survival, which was written less than a 
month after the bomb was used to exterminate the inhabitants of Hiroshima. In these 
essays I endeavored to deflate the grisly romantic flights of the air force strategists, 
with their irreal concept of a quick cheap victory by universal extermination; and I 
brought forth a series of concrete proposals for returning to political sanity and human 
morality. While the hypothetical predictions of 1947 have already been fulfilled to a 
dismaying degree, their only result was an invitation to lecture at the National War 
College — ^though the impression made on our military planners was not sufficient to 
reverse the disastrous policy on which the United States government had embarked. 
These essays, taken together, are herewith submitted as pragmatic corroboration of 
the philosophy set forth in these books. 

Green Memories; The Story of Geddes. New York; 1947. 

Glimpses of the biographical background and human experience out of which The 
Conduct of Life was written. To use current slang, this represents the existential side 
of the present philosophy. More than one page in The Conduct of Life owes a debt 
to my son — sometimes to his words, sometimes to his example. 

Murphy, Gardner: Personality ; a Biosocial Approach to Origins and Structure, 
New York: 1948. 

An exhaustive study, using the latest findings of the anthropologists as well as the 
analytical psychologists and the personologists. 

Murray, Henry A. : Explorations in Personality. New York ; 1938. 

One of the best attempts to chart the depth and breadth of the human personality, 
Freudian in background, but deliberately synthetic and comprehensive, not limited to 
the solutions of a school. See Murphy, Gardner. 


Murray, Henry A. (editor). See Clyde Kluckhohn. 

Murry, Middleton: God. New York: 1929. 

Myers, Frederic W. H. : Human Personality and Its Survival After Bodily Death. 
2 vols. New York: 1908. 

Niebuhr, Reinhold: The Nature and Destiny of Man; a Christian Inter or elation. 
2 vols. New York: 1941. 

Traditional in its adherence to orthodoxy; original by reason of this adherence, which 
gives the author a critical fixed point from which to detect the human aberrations of 
a too guileless liberalism, a too impersonal mechanism and materialism, or a too un- 
critical Marxism. 

Faith and History; a Comparison of Christian and Modern Views of History. 
New York: 1949. 

Assumes that the salvation of man cannot take place in history, since history is full 
of mysteries that cannot be penetrated and contradictions that cannot be resolved: 
therefore the meaning of life cannot be found there. The conclusion does not follow 
from the premises; but as with all Dr Niebuhr*s other works he shows great skill in 


detecting flaws in his opponents* armor. All hangs on the viability of his concept of 

Nietzsche, Friedrich: The Genealogy of Morals; a Polemic. London: 1913. 

White crystalline blocks of truth, marbled with folly: including in the latter^an at- 
tempt to derive the notion of moral obligation from the universal practices of a mythi- 
cal Urhdndlunggesetzmdssigkeit. 

Nikhilananda, Swami: The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. New York: 1942. 

Ramakrishna, almost within his own lifetime, was known as the God Man to his fol- 
lowers. He is in many ways a close contemporary of Dostoyevsky’s imaginary Holy 
Man in The Brothers Karamazov. 

Nordau, Max: Degeneration. New York: 1895. 

Appeared in 1893 in German, and caused great scandal in intellectual circles; rightly 
because of coarse application of half-baked scientific doctrines to ill -observed and 
maliciously interpreted “facts.” But, as with Spengler, the book had merits as intuitive 
prophecy that it lacked as objective observation; the degeneration that Nordau re- 
garded as mainly physiological, following Lombroso, was in fact a cultural disintegra- 
tion whose results we have lived to see. 

Northrop, F. S. C. (editor) : Ideological Differences and World Order. New 
Haven: 1949. 

Uneven in value. 

The Meeting of East and West. An Inquiry Concerning World Understanding. 
New York: 1946. 

Spirit and purpose excellent: method wooden: results uneven. Despite these reser- 
vations an important book. 

Noiiy, Lecomte du: Human Destiny. New York: 1947. 

Advocates a doctrine of “telefinalism” as against the improbability of a world gov- 
erned by chance producing as much order and direction as we find in the biological 
world and finally in man. Important as an indication of a new wind blowing in science; 
but unconvincing at many points because of a certain arbitrariness and over-confi- 
dence on such difiScult matters as the correct way of inculcating morality, 

Nyhren, Anders: Agape and Eros; a Study of the Christian Idea of Love. 3 vols. 
London: 1932. 

Thoroughgoing study of the ideas contributed by the philosophers and theologians, 
without any further resolution of the modes of love in human experience. 

Ogden, Charles Kay: The System of Basic English. New York: 1934. 

Ogden, Charles Kay, and Richards, I. A.: The Meaning of Meaning: a Study of 
the Influence of Language upon Thought and of the Science of Symbolism. 
New York: 1923. 

Ortega y Gasset, Jose: Toward a Philosophy of History. New York: 1941. 

Ortega’s approach to history is similar to that of this series. 

Concord and Liberty. New York: 1946. 

The Dehumanization of Art, Princeton: 1946. 

Otto, Rudolph: Idea of the Holy. London: 1923, 

Ouspensky, Piotr D.: A New Model of the Universe. New York: 1943. 

The Psychology of Mans Possible Evolution. New York: 1950. 

Pretentiously empty. 

Paget, Violet. See Lee, Vernon. 


Paley, William: Natural Theology, 2 vols. London: 1836. 

Attempt to prove the existence of God from the evidence of design in natural history. 
Weak in science because of the date but generally rejected by naturalists because of a 
theology far sounder than that of their favorite Victorian Deity, Natural Selection. 


Paul, Leslie: The Annihilation of Man; a Study of the Crisis in the West. New 
York: 1945. 

Excellent in its diagnosis of fascism; but inadequate, in the same fashion as Toynbee, 
Sorokin, and Michael Roberts, in its suggestions for Renewal. 

The Meaning of Human Existence. New York: 1950. 

Pearl, Raymond: Man the Animal. Bloomington, Indiana: 1946. 

Peirce, Charles: Chance, Love and Logic. New York: 1923. 

The Philosophy of Peirce. Selected Writings. Edited by Justus Buchler. Lon- 
don: 1940. 

Perry, Ralph Barton: The Moral Economy. New York: 1909. 

General Theory of Value; Its Meaning and Basic Principles Construed in 
Terms of Interest. New York: 1926. 

The Thought and Character of William James. 2 vols. Boston: 1935. 

Persoff, Albert Morton: Sabbatical Years With Pay: a Plan to Create and Main- 
tain Full Employment. Los Angeles: 1945. 

A valid thesis in an age threatened with unusable leisure at the wrong end of life, 
quite apart from the question of full employment. 

Petrie, Maria: Art and Regeneration. London: 1946. 

Excellent study of the regenerative and formative role of art in education. Cf. Herbert 

Plant, James S.: Personality and the Cultural Pattern. New York: 1937. 

Not merely sound psychology and sociology, but occasionally something more rare; 

Polanyi, Karl: The Great Transformation. New York: 1944, 

Analysis of the nature of the modern market economy and its essential impermanence. 
Important; not least because it offers a satisfactory answer to the notion propounded 
by Herbert Spencer, Hayek, Lippmann, and others that the free economy disappeared, 
not because of its weaknesses and its sins, but because of an altogether perverse at- 
tack upon it. 

Prescott, Daniel A.: Emotion and the Educational Process. Washington: 1938. 

Rader, Melvin: Ethics and Society; an Appraisal of Social Ideals. New York: 

Useful study by a scholar whose integrity and courage give him special qualifications 
to deal with this field. 

Radhakdrishnan, S.: The Hindu View of Life. New York: 1927. 

Excellent synoptic view of the Hindu religion and philosophy. 

Indian Philosophy. 2 vols. New York: 1927. 

Particularly useful because it has generous chapters on Patanjali and Sankara. 

Read, Herbert: Education Through Art. New York: 1949. 

Rightly esteemed by the author as his most important book to date. 

Education for Peace. London: 1950. 



Reich, Wilhelm: The Discovery of the Orgone. Vol. I: The Function of the Or- 
gasm. First ed. 1927. Second ed. New York: 1948. 

What is sound in this work — the belated hut perhaps long-suspected discovery that 
orgasms are important — was not original with Reich, despite his contrary impression. 
(See Dr Marie Stopes’ Married Lov©.) His originality consists in prescribing the 
orgastn as a panacea for the ills of mankind: the fallacy of one-dimensional salvation. 

Reiser, Oliver L. : World Philosophy; a Search for Synthesis, University rf 
Pittsburgh: 1948. 

Reiser, Oliver L. See Davies, Blodwen. 

Renouvier, Charles. Le Personnalisme. Paris: 1903. 

Renouvier’s mature statement of his own philosophic postulates. 

Rhine, J. B. : The Reach of Mind. New York: 1947. 

Summation of the evidence presented at earlier stages in Extra-Sensory Perception 
and New Frontiers of the Mind on the possibilities of clairvoyance, telepathy, and 
psycho-kinesis. Unless the theory of probability is not as absolute in its workings as 
mathematicians assume, the work of Dr Rhine and his associates proves that an un- 
known factor, seemingly human in origin, occasionally modifies some events of a 
“physical” nature. The most convincing part about the evidence is perhaps the fact 
that it is so meager in quantity apd so hard to interpret. 

Riesman, David (assisted by Denney, N., and Glazer, N.) ; The Lonely Crowd; 
a Study of the Changing American Character. New Haven: 1950. 

Perceptive study of ethical sources and current ethical vacuums. 

Rignano, Eugenio: The Aim of Existence; Being a System of Morality Based on 
the Harmony of Life. Chicago: 1929. 

The Nature of Life. New York: 1930, 


Ritter, WiUiam E.: The Natural History of Our Conduct. New York: 1927. 

Attempt to rectify Huxley’s misleading interpretation of discontinuity between man 
and other organisms in the ethical domain. Not entirely satisfactory; but in the right 

Roberts, Michael: The Modern Mind. London: 1937. 

The Recovery of the West. London: 1941. 

One of the best discussions of the intellectual and moral situation today. But see 
Leslie Paul, L. L. Whyte, and Erich Kahler, and my own book. The Condition of Man. 

Roberts, Morley: Malignancy and Evolution. London: 1926. 

Rocker, Rudolph: Nationalism and Culture. New York: 1937. 

Important contribution by a distinguished philosophic anarchist. For a more favorable 
picture, see George Russell’s The National Being, likewise Mazzini. 

Rorschach, Hermann: Psychodiagnostics; a Diagnostic Test Based on Percep- 
tion. Translated. Berne, Switzerland: 1942. 

Theoretic exposition of the famous test, whose remarkable efficacy, in practice, has 
more than justified its author’s original hopes. See Henry A. Murray. 

Rosenstock-Huessy, Eugen: Out of Revolution; Autobiography of Western Man. 
New York; 1938. 

The Christian Future; or, The Modern Mind Outrun. New York: 1946. 

A challenging statement by a highly original mind. 


Rosenstock-Huessy, Eugen: The Multiformity of Man. Norwich, Vt: 1948. 

Brilliant essay on the dynamics of human relations in work. 

Rougemont, Denis de: The Devil’s Share. New York: 1944. 

Royce, Josiah: The Philosophy of Loyalty, New York: 1908. 

Excellent statement of the higher universal implications of what would be, for Berg- 
son, a static and enclosed morality. 

The Problem of Christianity. 2 vols. New York: 1913. 

Re-statement of Christianity in terms of human experience, as the religious expression 
of the “philosophy of loyalty.” Penetrating and persuasive. 

The Hope of the Great Community. New York; 1916. 

One of the earliest and soundest formulations of One World doctrine. 

Russell, Bertrand: Mysticism and Logic. New York: 1921. 

Modern statement of scientific stoicism. 

Religion and Science. New York: 1935. 

Russell, E. S.: The Directiveness of Organic Activities. Cambridge: 1945. 

Important, but see Simpson. 

Sachs, Curt: The Commonwealth of Art; Style in the Fine Arts, Music and The 
Dance. New York: 1942. 

Remarkable pioneer attempt at unification. 

Santayana, George: Realms of Being. New York: 1942. 

One-volume edition of The Realm of Essence, The Realm of Matter, The Realm of 
Truth and the Realm of Spirit: in some ways the philosophic equivalent of Proust, 
essentially a soliloquy that subsumes the past, tranquilly hovering over man and the 
cosmos, without ever wrestling with the present or moving toward the future. 

The Idea of Christ in the Gospels or God in Man; a Critical Essay. New 
York: 1946. 

The Life of Reason. 5 vols. New York: 1905. 

Pregnant with original thoughts whose significance could not be fuUy appreciated until 
the present day. 

Sartre, Jean-Paul: Existentialism. New York: 1947. 

A symptom disguised as a system. 

Sayers, Dorothy L.: The Mind of the Maker. New York: 1941. 

Original conception of both the Christian religion and creativeness, but marred by 
Miss Sayers’ professional assumption, as a writer of detective stories, presumably 
worked from the final solution forward, that God knew the answers before He began. 

Schelling, Friedrich: The Ages of the World. Trans, with introductory notes 
by Frederick DeWulfe Bolman, Jr. New York: 1942. 

Schilder, Paul: Goals and Desires of Man; a Psychological Survey of Life. New 
York: 1942. 

Schrodinger, Erwin: Science and the Human Temperament. New York: 1935. 

Brilliant summary of post-mechanistic physics. 

What Is Life? New York: 1946. 

A physicist’s attempt to bridge the gap between the non-organic and the organic, by 
an extremely interesting application of the theory of probability to the genes of 
heredity, with their relatively small number of molecules. 

Schweitzer, Albert: The Philosophy of Civilisation. Vol. I: The Decay and Res- 
toration of Civilisation. Vol. II: Civilisation and Ethics. London: 1923. 


[Vol. Ill: The World-View of Reverence for Life, Vol. IV: The Civilised 
State, In preparation.] 

The divorce of his reverence for life from a view of nature partly deprives it of its 
natural significance and authority. 

Out of My Life and Thought; an Autobiography, New York: 1933, 

Indian Thought and Its Development, New York: 1936. 

Compact and useful study of the life-negating Hindu ideology, by the exponent of 
Western life-affirming religiousness. 

Schweitzer, Albert: An Anthology. Edited by Charles R. Joy. Boston: 1947. 

Seidenberg, Roderick: Post-Historic Man; an Inquiry, Chapel Hill, N. C.: 1950. 
Acute study of the processes that are creating a collective automaton out of the 
image of God. Puts in rational form the intuitions expressed from Erewhon to 19B4. 
The author does not allow for human resiliency; or for man’s capacity to demolish 
the machine itself before it takes him so far away from his proper destination. Rec- 

Sellars, Roy Wood: Evolutionary Naturalism. Chicago: 1922. 

Shaler, Nathaniel Southgate: The Neighbor; The Natural History of Human 
Contacts, Boston: 1904. 

The Individual; a Study of Life and Death. Boston: 1901. 

Both noteworthy discussions, by a mind that went far beyond its professional prov- 
ince of geology. 

Shand, Alexander F.: The Foundations of Character; Being a Study of the 
Tendencies of the Emotions and Sentiments, London: 1920. 

Sheldon, William H.: Psychology and the Promethean Will; a Constructive 
Study of the Acute Common Problem of Education, Medicine, and Re- 
ligion, New York: 1936. 

The Varieties of Temperament. New York: 1942. . 

For an early anticipation of Sheldon’s contribution see a paper by Dr J. Lionel Taylor: 
The Study of Individuals (Individuology) in Sociological Papers. London: 1904. 

Simpson, George Gaylord. Tempo and Mode in Evolution, New York: 1944. 

The Meaning of Evolution. New Haven: 1949. 


Soderblom, Nathan: The Living God; Basal Forms for Personal Religion. The 
Gifiord Lectures delivered in the University of Edinburgh in the year 1931. 
London: 1933. 

Pure expression of Universalism. See Hocking. 

Sombart, Werner: The Quintessence of Capitalism: a Study of the History and 
Psychology of the Modern Business Man. (Translation of Der Bourgeois.) 
New York: 1915. ^ 

Though Sombart contrasts this new ideology and psychology wiA those of a wholly 
mythical natural man, his characterization is often penetrating. Unlike he doM 

not overplay the debt of capitalism to Protestantism. Cf. my criticism of Webers arbi- 
trary interpretation in The Condition of Man. 

Somerville, John; Soviet Philosophy; A Study of Theory and Practice. New 

York: 1946. 


Sorokin, Pitirim A.: The Crisis of Our Age. New York: 1941. 

Condensation of thesis on modern civilization set forth in his four-volume Social and 
Cultural Dynamics (1938). Important because he was one of the first sociologists to 
recognize the importance of the logico -meaningful element in all social processes. 
Society f Culture, and Personality: a System of General Sociology. New York: 

A compendious textbook, which brings together in reasonable order a great deal of 
material and many bibliographic references. 

The Reconstruction of Humanity. Boston: 1948. 

Attempt at detailed prescription for overcoming the present disintegration of Western 
civilization. Full of loose thinking, slipshod generalization, and pseudo-statistical proof, 
and lacking in' an adequate methodology; yet its weaknesses are partly corrected by a 
wide-ranging scholarship and by a generous recognition of the complicated processes 
at work in society and the human personality. 

Spencer, Herbert: Education; Intellectual, Moral, and Physical. First ed., Lon- 
don: 1861. 


First Principles. London: 1862. 

Introduction to Spencer’s magistral attempt to unify the physical, biological, and 
social sciences by means of concept of evolution. The revolt against Spencer’s sys- 
tem, led in the United States by William James, was not merely directed against his 
weaknesses: it was the rejection by an age of chaotic specialization against any at- 
tempt at a general order or synthesis. 

Spr anger, Eduard: Types of Men; the Psychology and Ethics of Personality, 
Trans. From fifth German ed. Halle: 1928. 

Stapleton, Laurence: Justice and World Society. Chapel Hill, N. C.: 1944. 

Attempt to re-establish concept of universal justice; 

Steiner, Rudolph: The Threefold Commonwealth. New York: 1928. 

Steiner’s conception of a threefold arrangement of political, economic, and educa- 
tional life, in which the. state would have a minimum to do with economics and edu- 

Study of Man; General Education Course. New York: 1947. 

Theosophical interpretation of the nature of man, by the most influential theosophist 
after Mrs Annie Besant. Precisely because of the freedom of hypothesis which Steiner 
gave himself, he has perhaps at times discovered truths, or the beginnings of truths, 
not admitted as possible by other systems. To preserve an inquiring and open mind, 
if no more, such books as this, usually contemptuously ignored by scholars, should 
be kept in view. Even such a flat materialist as Freud was forced, in medical honesty, 
to take dreams seriously. 

Stem, William: General Psychology. New York: 1938. 

Stevens, Henry Bailey: The Recovery of fulture. New York: 1949. 

Ingenious interpretation of history and civilization as a perversion on the part of the 
meat-eating, stock-raising peoples of late neolithic times, which produced butchery 
and war, supplanting the peaceful plant-raising, tree-worshiping, vegetarian culture 
that preceded it. Stimulating. 

Stromberg, Gustaf. The Soul of the Universe. Philadelphia: 1940. 

Taylor,. Gordon Rattray: What Is Personalism? Personalist Pamphlets No.-l. 
London: n.d. 

Thomson, J. Arthur: The System of Animate Nature. 2 vols. New York; 1920. 
WhjTt Tfi Man? London: 1924. 



Thoreau, Henry David; Walden, Boston: 1854. 

Essay on Civil Disobedience, First published in Aesthetic Papers, edited by 
Elizabeth Peabody. Boston: 1849. 

Influenced Gandhi: badly needed today, particularly among many of Thoreau*s cowed 
and blindly conformist countrymen. 

Thorndike, Edward Lee; Human Nature and the Social Order. New York: 1940. 
Copious summation of Thorndike’s life work as a psychologist, applied to probl^s 
that call for wisdom as well as knowledge. Thorndike’s interpretation of purpose in 
relation to the learning process offers a more radical revision of current psychology 
than he himself seemed quite aware of. 

Man and His Works. Cambridge, Mass.; 1943. 

Brief summation of some of the data on social institutions in Human Nature and the 
Social Order. Perhaps most important for the light Thorndike’s tests on reward and 
punishment throw upon penology. 

Tillich, Paul: The Shaking of the Foundations. New York: 1948. 

Tillyard, Aelfrida; Spiritual Exercises and Their Results; an Essay in Psychol- 
ogy and Comparative Religion. London; 1927. 

Useful though hardly exhaustive. 

Tolman, Edward Chace: Purposive Behavior in Animals and Men. New York: 

Drives Toward War. New York: 1942. 

Tolstoy, Leo. Works. Vol. XII; On Life and Essays on Religion. Vol. XIV: 
What Then Must We Do? Vol. XVIII: What is Art? Oxford: 1928-1937. 

Toynbee, Arnold: Civilization on Trial. New York: 1948, 

Essays which show, perhaps more clearly than the six-volume A Study of History, the 
limitations of the author’s theology and his insight into the nature of human life and 

A Study of History. Abridgement of Vols. I-VI in one volume by D. C. 

This excellent condensation reveals more nakedly Toynbee’s essential strength and 
weakness. He is like a great explorer and colonizer who returns at last to live on a 
Rmnll (spiritual) pension in his ancestral village, next door to the vicarage. 

Trueblood, D* Elton: The Predicament of Modern Man. New York: 1944. 

Tsanoff, Radoslav A.; The Nature of Evil. New York: 1931. 

Tyrell, G. N. M.: The Personality of Man. London: 1946. 

Chiefly on evidence of extra-sensory activities. 

Underhill, Evelyn: Mysticism; a Study in the Nature and Development of Man's 
Spiritual Consciousness. London: 1911. 

Urban, W. M.: Valuation; Its Nature and Laws. New York: 1909. 

The Intelligible World. Metaphysics and Value. New York: 1929. 

Urban’s work, with Hobhouse’s, stands among the first recent attempts, apart from 
neo-Thomism, to interpret human experience in terms of value, purpose, and meaning. 
Language and Reality; the Philosophy of Language and the Principles of 
Symbolism. London : 1939. 

Veblen, Thorstein: An Inquiry into the Nature of Peace and the Terms of Its 
Perpetuation. New York: 1917, 


Vico, Giambattista: The Autobiography of Giambattista Vico. Trans, by Max 
Harold Fisch and Thomas Goddard Bergin. Ithaca, N. Y.: 1944. 

Extremely revealing. Vico was not merely a great humanist in the Renascence tradi- 
tion? but even more, an early precursor of a more organic and personalist philosophy. 

Wallas, Graham: The Great Society. New York: 1915. 

One of the landmarks that indicate how high the wave of hopeful intelligence and 
intelligent hope had reached before 1914. Cf. Mannheim’s diagnosis almost a genera- 
tion later. 

Our Social Heritage. New Haven : 1921. 

Men and Ideas. New York : 1940. 

The wisdom of an educator, a civil servant, and a sociologist whose work should be 
better known to the present generation. See particularly his criticism of Froebelian 
pedagogy, which is also, incidentally, a criticism of Dewey’s too influential little 
treatise on Interest and Effort in Education. 

Wallis, Wilson D.: Messiahs; Their Role in Civilization. Washington: 1943. 
Ward, James: The Realm of Ends; or. Pluralism and Theism, Cambridge: 1911. 

Watts, Alan W.: The Spirit of Zen: a Way of Life, Work, and Art in the Far 
East. London : 1936. , 

Exposition of one of the most elusive forms of Buddhism. 

W^ells, Herbert George: A Modern Utopia, London: 1905. 

One of a series of Utopias, ail more or less similar in content because of the stress 
"Wells laid on organization, administration and mechanical invention, which express 
the best of the liberal-socialist nineteenth century ideals though tainted by a tend- 
ency toward “scientific” authoritarianism. 

The Shape of Things to Come; the Ultimate Revolution, New York: 1933. 

The Anatomy of Frustration. New York: 1936. 

Mind at the End of Its Tether. London: 1945. 

Written when Wells’s mind was itself collapsing and projecting its own situation into 
the world; but significantly fulfilling Chesterton’s prediction that Wells’s philosophy 
must end in despair. 

West, Rebecca: Black Lamb and Grey Falcon; a Journey Through Jugoslavia, 
2 vols. New York: 1941. 

One of the richest personal interpretations of another culture in our time: a mine of 

Weyl, Hermann: The Open World, New Haven: 1932. 

Re-statement in scientific terms of the case for deity as revealed by cosmic law, toward 
whose elucidation mathematics and physics offer the most useful key. 

Wheeler, William Norton: Emergent Evolution and the Development of Soci- 
eties, New York: 1928. 

Crystalline statement of doctrine ot emergence. But see Lloyd Morgan. 

Whitehead, Alfred North: Science and the Modern World. New York: 1925. 

In a less private language than Process and Reality, and still one of the best exposi- 
tions of Whitehead’s philosophy, though some of the logical weakness of the concept 
of mechanism applies also to his concept of organism, which is no more ultimate. 
Symbolism; Its Meaning and Effect, New York: 1927. 

Recommended. , , 

The Aims of Education and Other Essays. New Yor(c: 1929- 



Whitehead, Alfred North: The Function of Reason, Princeton: 1930. 

Adventures of Ideas. New York: 1933. 

Whitman, Walt: Democratic Vistas. New York: 1871. 

The best prose exposition of Whitman’s doctrine of Personalism which, though philo- 
sophically undeveloped, intuitively grasped and anticipated the elements of later per- 
sonalism. Here and in Leaves of Grass Whitman speaks for a personalism that absorbs 
science and encloses it, dealing with equal readiness with internal events and^the 
mere show of things: with the innermost recesses of the soul or the outermost reaches 
of the cosmos: a point of view which the present series of books has consciously ex- 
panded, in distinction to the narrower personalism, a variant of orthodox humanism, 
which is more characteristic of the European personalists. 

Whyte, Lancelot Law: The Next Development in Man. New York: 1948. 

Attempt to develop a unitary philosophy capable of embracing all phenomena; but by 
founding it on the Heraclitean concept of process and change the author fails to do 
justice to the static and “eternar’ aspects of experience; and is therefore compelled 
by his logic not only to exclude every form of Platonism but to forgo, by that very 
act, the unitary goal that he regards as imperative. The concepts that underlie The 
Conduct of Life seek to escape this weakness and do justice to ail the dimensions of 
experience. See Spencer’s First Principles. 

Wiener, Norbert: The Human Use of Human Beings; Cybernetics and Society. 
Boston: 1950. 

Admirable exposition of the social implications of the new thinking machines: their 
danger and promise. 

Willkie, Wendell: One World. New York: 1943. 

Memorable for its title: the first formulation by a politician of the fundamental truth 
of our times — that mankind is one, and that the acceptance of its unity has become 
today a criterion of sanity as well as a goal of statesmanship. 

Wilson, Richard A.: The Miraculous Birth of Language. New York: 1948. 

Sound critique of the Darwinian and hehaviorist attempt to minimize the gap between 
man and the rest of the animal world. Emphasizes the unique role of time and space 
concepts in language formation. Does belated justice to Kant, but for some reason 
while treating Rousseau overlooks the more important contributions of Vico; and in 
our time Cassirer and Langer. Highly recommended. 

Wolff, Werner: The Expression of Personality; Experimental Depth Psychology. 
New York: 1943. 

Wundt, Wilhelm: The Facts of the Moral Life. Trans, from second German ed., 
1892. New York: 1897. 

Young, J. Z.: Doubt and Certainty in Science; A Biologists Reflections on the 
Human Brain. The Reith Lectures. In The Listener, Nov. 2, 1950 to Dec. 
21, 1950. 

Younghusband, Francis Edward: The Living Universe. London: 1933. 


This book is part of a growing body of thought: so my debt to other scholars 
is properly an extensive one. The bibliography indicates my major sources 
and occasionally gives some measure of my debts. 

In my other volumes I have acknowledged an early obligation to my old 
master, Patrick Geddes, and to his friend and collaborator, Victor Branford. To 
make up for the neglect of Geddes’s thought by his contemporaries, I have in the 
past perhaps exaggerated his efiect on my own mature thinking, though I have 
often failed to take full advantage of his most original contributions. While in 
the present book I have, I trust, pushed beyond the natural limitations of Geddes’s 
period and culture, I should never be surprised to find the blaze of his ax on 
any trail I thought to have opened alone. To my colleagues and students at 
Dartmouth College, Columbia University, Stanford University, and the Univer- 
sity of North Carolina I owe a debt too voluminous to record in detail. For more 
strictly personal influences in the conception and gestation of this series I can 
give no public acknowledgments: enough to recall Whitman’s words, “The best 
is that which must be left unsaid.” To this I make one exception, for without the 
generous understanding, the detached criticism, and the loyal comradeship of 
my wife, Sophia Wittenberg Mumford, this whole series would never have 
ripened. That debt crowns every other. — L. M. 


[Note: Titles of books and section heads, 
as well as foreign words, are italicized.'! 

Abbau, 73 

Absolutes, mankind’s present, 165 
Absolution, Freudian, 249 
Abstraction, 53 
importance of, 41 
weakness of, 24 

Abstractions, mechanism of, 42 
Accident, versus purpose, 157 
Accidents, place of, 70 
Action, camp of, 265 
Action, Stripping for, 268-273 
Activities, autonomous, 282 
segregation of, 187 
Adam, old and new, 104 
Adams, Henry, 96, 115, 149, 211, 231, 270 
Adaptation, 28 
Administrators, 277 
Admirals, armchair, 224 
Advancement of learning, 5 
Advancement of Learning, The, 186 
Adventure, 181, 242 
Age, imperatives of our, 257 
Maitreyan, 10 

pressing problems of our, 192 
Age, Promise of Our, 3-5 
Agents, universal, 238 
Aggression, 285 
Ahab, Captain, 16, 53, 157 
Ahriman, 73 
Air, importance of, 141 
Ajanta caves, 80, 119 
Alberti, L. B., 184 
Alchemists, 89 
Alexander the Great, 101 
Alexander. Matthias, 247, 250 

Alienation, 100 
social, 124 

Alternatives, Present, 18-21 
Ambiguities, The, 165 
America, misguidance of, 172 
American Jungle, the, 15 
American Revolution, 210 
American soldier, moral insight of, 156 
American way of life, 125 
Ames, Adelbert, 40 
Amoeba, 122 
Analects, Confucian, 95 
Analysis, abstract, 23 
psycho-, 248 

Ancient customs, observance of, 93 
Androcles, 195 
Angels, 7, 246 
Angyal, Andras, 143 
Animal, man as, 30, 48 
man as the self -fabricating, 40 
needs, 31 
psychology, 108 
understanding, 86 
Animals, brainy, 36 
warm-blooded, 27 
Anthropology, 40, 192 
Antisthenes, 101 
Ants, example of the, 186 
Anxiety, reasons for, 47 
Aphrodite, visceral, 194 
Apocalypse, 118 

Appetites, over-indulgence of the, 145 
Aquinas, Thomas, 20, 109, 156 
Arbitrary compulsion, 150 
Architecture, modern, 273 



Ariel, 42 

Aristotle, 61, 146, 156 
Arjuiia, 86 

Arnold, Matthew, 155 

Arrested development, threats of, 36 

AnivUme^ 106 

^rt, ^importance of for human develop- 
ment, 222 

Artemis, muscular, 194 
Aryan physics, 149 
Asceticism, 83 
Associations, ecological, 28 
Astrology, 130 
Astro-physicists, 24, 29 
Athene, cerebral, 194 
Atoms, 25 

Augustine, 157, 233 
Augustus to Trajan, 19 
Auschwitz, 71 
Autarchy, economic, 239 
Authoritarian tradition, 154 
Automatic processes, 224 
Automatism, 3, 181, 232 
Automaton, 222 
/Autonomous activity, 187 
Autonomous development, 281 
Autonomy, 32 
inner, 255 
Axial change, 226 

Babbage, Charles, 227 
Bacchus, 197 

Bach, Johann Sebastian, 208 
Bacon, Francis, 186 
Baha-^ullah, 117 
Bahai, 117 

Balance, 32, 180, 181, 182, 193, 214 
achievement of, 183 
acid-alkaline, 30 
age of, 10 

classic doctrine of, 183 

dynamic, 243 

idea of, 188 

ideal of, 184 

in time, principle of, 200 

static, 190 

Balance^ The Incarnation of, 205-215 

Balance, The Reason for, 180-192 
Balanced life, 282 
Balanced man, 276, 288 
Balanced person, 185, 291 
Ballet Mecanique, 4 
Barnard, Chester A-, 277 
Barbarism, 222 
danger of, 148 
of civilization, 221 
Basic English, 238 
Baudelaire, Charles, 115 
Beam, Kenneth S., 284 
Beauty, 287 

Beethoven, Ludwig van, 4 
Behavior, all living, 29 
Behavior Research Project, 158 
Being, 64 

transcendent nature of, 169 
Bellamy, Edward, 236 
Benedictine monastery, 184 
Berchtesgaden, 263 
Bergson, Henri, 40, 43, 86, 93, 94 
Bergson’s duree, 261 
Bernard, Claude, 30, 187, 86 
Big Brother, 111 
Biography, assimilation of, 260 
Biological weapons, 130 
Birminghams, 198 
Birth of the Person, The, 92-94 
Bishop, Claire Huchet, 276 
Bitch-goddess Success, 106 
Black Death, 114, 201 
Blake, William, 287 
Blame-avoidance, 160, 171 
Blameless people, 170 
Blocks, evaluation, 129 
Blood and soil, 8 
Bloom, Leopold, 15 
Blut und Boden, 125 
Boccaccio, 201 
Boimondau, 277 
Boole, George, 176, 227 
Boole, Mary Everest, 169, 176, 188 
Borgese, G. A., 280 
Bose, Jagadis, 78 
Brahma, 56, 64 



Brahmin’s rule, 210 
Brahmo Samaj, 110 
Brain, overgro-wth of, 36 
Branford, Victor, 194 
Bread labor, 282 
Breakdown, moral, 13 
Breughel, Peter, 114 
Britain, high morale of, 168 
British, the, at Dunkirk, 20 
worker, mid-Victorian, 281 
Broch, Hermann, 205 
Brotherhood, mark of new, 271 
Brothers Karamazov, The, 268 
Browning, Robert, 77 
Brutality, 152 
Bucke, Richard, 5 
Buchenwald, 71 
Buddha, 106, 118 
the Illumined One, 68 
Buddhism. 25, 64» 84, 99, 103, 114, 118, 
196, 201 
Bunyan, 3 

Burckhardt, Jacob, 115, 211, 231, 268, 270 
Bureaucracy, safeguard against. 282 
Burrow, Dr Trigant, 52 
Business cycle, manic-depressive, 178 
Butler, Samuel, 160 

Caliban, 42 

Callousness, present cult of, 153 
Calvinism, 235 
Cannon, Walter, 32, 34 
Canvass of Possibilities, 5-11 
Capacities, organic, 27 
Capek, Karel, 125 
Capitalism, 178, 236 
lethal nature of, 178 
private, 233 
Caprice, random, 123 
Captain Ahab, 16, 53 
Carlyle, 40 
Catastrophe, 3, 222 
Catastrophe, Alternatives to, 18-21 
Catastrophes, 264 
Catholic Church, 103, 263 
Causal mechanisms, operation of, 132 
Causes, final, 131 

Cerebrals, 194 
Cervantes, 114 
Chaldean faith, 130 
Challenge of Evil, The, 156-160 
Chamberlain, Neville, 155 
Chamberlains, 171 
Chance, 15, 133 
Change, 177 
an axial, 226 
burden of, 189 
inner, 236 

large-scale social, 228 
piecemeal, 224 
social, manner of, 97 
Society for the Prevention of, 104 
Changes, cumulative, 133 
Chaos, mechanical, 16 
Charlatanism, 270 
Chartres Cathedral, 8 
Cheat the Prophet, game of, 134 
Chesterton, Gilbert, 134 
Child-observation, 284 
Childbirth, 162 

Children, maladjustment of, 258 
wild, 42 
China, 198, 220 
Chinese, 182 
wisdom, 211 
Choices, man’s, 123 
multifold, 128 
Christ the Saviour, 68 
Christian Church, 211 
Christian Fathers, 154 
Christian liturgy, 103 
Christianity, 99, 101, 103, 118, 172, 196, 
216, 232, 235 

Christianity, as savior of civilization, 113 
historic identity with Buddhism and 
Islam, 114 

liberating thought of, 110 
myth of, 63 
Orthodox, 116 

Chronometricals and Horologiccds, 165- 

Chuang-Chou, 45, 161 
Church, medieval, 115 
Universal, 117 



ChurchiU, 'Winston, 155, 167, 231, 259 
Civilization, Egyptian, 77 
new development of, 216 
invisible breakdown in, 148 
repressed components of, 237 
rigidity of modern, 271 
saving of, 113 
transformation of, 4, 232 
Civilizations, rise of, 219 
Classic civilization, gods of, 252 
Classic religions, ofi5ce of the, 67 
Cloister, the, 262 
archaic forms of, 263 
Closed society, pressures of, 99 
Coghill, G. E., 35, 143 
Coincidences, 28 
Coitus, the first, 162 
Collaboration, wiping out of interna- 
tional, 150 
Colonization, 237 
Commedia delV arte, 219 
Commitment, The Universal, 118-120 
Commitments, biological, 128 
fatal, 267 

Communication, 150 
instantaneous, 238 
Commimion, 43, 153 
with “God,” 88 
“Communism,” 226 
Communism, 179, 236 
Stalinist, 144 
Community, 243 
of purpose, 190 
re-polarization of, 97 
universal, 94, 117 

Compensation, psychological, 162 i 
Complexity, historic, 26 
Compulsion, 19 
arbitrary, 150 
totalitarian, 225 
Comte, Auguste, 177, 178, 194 
Concert of Europe, 279 
Concord, 289 

Condition of Man, The, 100, 190 
Conditioned reflex, utopia of, 144 
Conditioners, the, 16 

Conduct, 155 
ethical, 140 
norms of, 165 
predictable, 164 
Confessional, Christian, 249 
Confucianism, 103, 196 
Confucius, 146, 182, 211 
Congress of Religions, 210 
Conrad, Joseph, 237 
Conservatism, 179 
Conservatives, 177 

Constitution of a World Government, the 
coming, 204 

Contemplation, fortress of, 265 
Continuities, 227 
Continuity, 25, 29, 177 
natural, 242 

Control, quantitative, 189 
Conversion, 99 

Conversion, The Social Process of, 100- 

Cooley, Charles Horton, 39, 277 
Co-operation, 3, 30, 150 
Copernicus, 7, 202 
Corruptions, religious, 84 
Cosmetic, 200 
Cosmos, 27 
nature of the, 65 
Creation, confidence in, 290 
mood of, 173 
nature of, 135 
Creativeness, 242 
Creativity, 25, 242 
arrest of, 11 
impairment of, 141 
language as source of, 44 
Creators, 256 
Creatureliness, human, 66 
Criminal, opportunity for, 268 
Cripples, inverted, 185 
Crisis, 217 
confrontation of, 290 
present, 226 

Cross-fertiliza^on, cultural, 10 
Cruelty, participation in, 153 
Cultural elements, repressed, 233 



Culture, 37, 38 
creative period in, 217 
dramatic interpretation of, 218 
formative movements in, 216 
fluctuations in, 217 
growth of a mechanistic, 185 
impulse to fabricate, 92 
mechanized, 14 
plot of, 218 
static, 99 
theme of, 218 
Western, 191 
Customs, 123 
Cybele, 79 

Cycle, downward, 20 
of life, 199 
of recurrence, 64 
Cyprian, 9 
Czarism, 177 

Da-da, 149 
Da-daism, 52 

Daily Life, Discipline for, 281-284 
Dairymen’s associations, 269 
Dali, Salvador, 221 
Damascus, 252 

Dangerous thoughts, fear of, 19 
Dante Alighieri, 61, 171 
Darkness, and dream, 47 
Darwin, 108, 131, 133, 146 
Data, basic, 25 

Daughters of the American Revolution, 

da Vinci, Leonardo, 184 
Day of rest, 258 
Daydreams, 46 
Days, length of, 291 
“Dead Pan,” 153 
Deaf-mutism, 43 
Death, democratization of, 80 
premature, 12 
preparation for, 80 
Death, Eternity and Sex, 76-82 
Debasement, moral, 130 
De-building principle, 80 
Decapitation, modern man’s, 221 
Decision, 269 

Decline, cultural, 220 
Decline of the West, 211 
Dehumanization, 242 
Deity, loving, 63 
Delacroix, Eugene, 148 
Delphi, 244 

Democracy, ultimate lesson of, 120 
Democratic party, 207 
Democritus, 25 
Demons, classic, 252 
Demosthenes, 167 

De-personalized, the, bias toward, 108 
Design, emerging order of, 65 
manifestations of, 137 
Design, The Nature of, 134-139 
Despiritualization, 90 
Despotism, 225 
Destroyer, 73 

Detachment, 76, 100, 253, 257, 264 
discipline of, 84 
personal, 95 
planned, 268 

Detachment and Sacrifice, 82-86 
Development, directional, 32 
ethics of, 141, 147 
human, 6 
life’s, 125 

Development, Preparation for, 244-251 
Devil, 73, 163 
Deviltry, Man’s, 54 
Dewey, John, 67, 180, 245, 265 
Diagnosis, of our times, the present, 223 
Schweitzer’s, 211 
Spengler’s, 211 
Toynbee’s, 217 

Diagnosis of Our Times, 11-18 
Dialectical materialism, 224 
Dictum, Maxwell’s, 232 
Diderot, Denis, 163 

Diet, Thoreau’s over-simplification of, 272 
Differences, biological, 192 
Differentia of man, biological, 135 
Diogenes, 101, 119, 129 
Dionysian, elements, industrialists’ con- 
tempt for, 198 
Dionysus, 79 
Direction, self-, 179 



Directions of Morality, 164 
Discovery and Fabrication, Social, 36-39 
Discrimination, 123, 139 
qualitative, 145 
quantitotive, 145, 146 
Disembodiment, 100 
Disintegration, 153, 220, 222, 223 
^^cal, 144 
psychic, 81 
of bodily organs, 81 
threat of, 3 
Dispersion, the, 139 
Disruption, favorable nature of, 8 
Divine Comedy, The, 119 
Divine, Emergence of the, 68-76 
Divine, historic sense of the, 68 
revelation, 69 
Divinity, 242 

Division of Labor, 37, 270 
Doctrine of Singular Points^ 227 
Doctrine of the Whole, 223-226 
Doctrines, Christian, 25 
Dogma, communist, 110 
Dogmatic claims, irrational, 113 
Domestic responsibilities, 283 
Don Quixote, 194 

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor, 60, 152, 262, 269 
Drama, 218 
cultural, 219 
interior, 45 
need for new, 222 
Dramas, 223 

Dream, the, 46, 53, 223, 248 
faith in, 120 
mechanism of, 54 
origin of, 47 

Dream, as psychodrama, 51 

Dream consciousness, retarding, 50 

Dream imagery, 45 

Dream-work, 48 

Dreams, 256, 265 

Dreams, Interpretation of, 45-51 

Dress, simplicity in, 234 

Drives Toward War, 191 

Drug, totalitarian, 21 

Drugs, 144 

Dunkirk, 20 

Duree, 261 

Dynamic equilibrium, 30, 180 

Eastern Churches, 177 
Economic life, impact of, 34 
Economic Man, 191 
Economy of abundance, 6, 161 
Eddy, Mary Baker, 158 
Educated Man, 186 
Education, 199, 266 
romantic, 234 
Educators, 255 
superficiality of, 256 
Efflorescence, organic, 35 
Ego, 248 
tribal, 104 
Egypt, 80, 220 
Egyptian civilization, 77 
Einstein, Albert, 202 
Either-or, fallacy of, 179 
Elementalism, misleading, 26 
Elements, emergent, in new life, 223 
transmutation of, 89 
Eliot, T. S., 115 
Ellis, Havelock, 190 
Elohim, 74 

Embodiment, 100, 103, 228 
Emergence, 25, 29, 162, 169 
into person, 241 
Emergent Evolution, 73 
Emergent, God as a new, 73 
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 65, 138, 165, 222 
272, 289 

Emerson’s Uriel, 167 
Emersonian individualism, 179 
Emotional responses, drying up of, 146 
Emotions, fear of, 153 
Enactment, dramatic, 218 
End, nature of, 132 * 

Enemy, man as his own, 11 
Energy, 9 
command of, 9 
Engels, Friedrich, 180, 203 
England, 287 
Englishwomen, 287 
Entelechy, Aristotelian, 109 
Entropy, 170 



Environment, 189 
complexity of, 32 
extra-organic, 39 
Epicurus, 183 
Epicurus’s injunction, 253 
Epilogue, cultural, 220 
Equalization, movement toward, 236 
Equilibrium, 183 
dynamic, 30, 180 
inner, 257 

no final state of, 188, 
organic, 29, 31 
Erasmus, 287 
Eros, 76 

Erotic adventure, extra-marital, 258 
Eskimo, 93 
Esperanto, 238 

Essay on Universal Peace, 145 
Essences, 53 
Essenes, 101, 206 

Established patterns, break with, 206 
Esthetic delight, 126 
Estimation, simple modes of, 122 
Eternal Clockmaker, 133 
Eternal Life, 77 
Eternity, 59, 291 
Eternity, Sex, and Death, 76-82 
Ethan Brand, 16 
Ethical center, shift of, 124 
Ethical conduct, doctrine of, 130 
Ethical development, basis for, 250 
Ethical doctrine, Schweitzer’s, 213 
Ethical philosophies, 175 
Ethics, 123, 131 

Etfdcs and Civilization, Schweitzer’s, 212 
Ethics, experimental, 123 
optimistic, 157 
pessimistic, 157 
roots of, 212 

Ethics of human development, criteria 
for, 139 
Europe, 289 
Eutopia, 236 
Eutopianism, 226, 239 
Eutopianism and Universalism, 235-240 
Evaluation, 139, 265 
Evaluation blocks, 129 

Evaluations, man’s, 123 
Events, importance of minute, 230 
physical, 23 
singular, 231 
unique, 24 

Everest, Mary (Boole), 176 
Evil, 162 

characterization of, 168 
constancy of, 170 
dynamic role of, 156 
elimination of, 158 
nature of, 170 

rationalistic interpretation of, 244 
threat of, 157 

Evil, as a remediable disease, 160 
Evils, subjective origins of, 158 
Evolution, 34, 121 
cosmic, 23 

Existence, colorlessness of modern, 171 
goals of, 69 

and singular points, 227 
Existentialist, the, 53 
fashionable, 157 
Experience, limitation of, 25 
organic, 29 

Explanation, causal, 241 
teleological, 241 
Exploration, 237 
Expression, 222 
need for strong, 187 
Expressiveness, 242 
Extermination, 148 
mass, 12 

Extermination camp, 152 
Extermination chambers, Nazi’s, 231 
External conditions, adaptation to, 122 
External world, the, 229 
Exuberance, emotional, 187 

Fabrication and Discovery, Social^ 36-39 

“Facts,” “hard, irreducible,” 214 

Faith, Christian, 113 

Faith for living, 292 

Faith, re-building of, 224 

Falstaff, 194 

Family, cult of, 78 

Family Log, The, 284 



Fantasies, 256 
Fantasy, 248 
Far-sightedness, 155 
Faraday, Michael, 202 
Fascism, 232, 282 
Fate, 15 
Germany’s, 112 

*Fau|J:ian Man, obsolete ambitions of, 232 
Fear, as basis of evil, 158 
function of, 159 

Federal Bureau of Investigation, 150 
Fellowship, 43 
Ferrovius, 195 

Feverel, Sir Austin, system of, 175 
Fichte, J. G., 95, 124 
Final causes, 131 
Finalism, illustrations of, 137 
older doctrines of, 136 
Finality, 133 
Finiteness, human, 66 
First World War, 150, 205 
Five-Year Plan, 269 
Fixation, 19 
Fleurs du Mol, 116 
Food, value of, 126 
Food-chains, 32 

Force, totalitarian need for, 111 
Forces, emergent, 231 
Forebrain, 144 

Form, Man's Will to, 121-125 
Formulation, 100, 228 
Fourier, C. F. M., 278 
France, mis^idance of, 172 
Francis of Assisi, 76 
Frank, Waldo, 15 
Freedom, 181 
human, 143 

French West Africa, 209 
Freud, Sigmund, 230, 247, 250 
Friendliness, 26 
Froebel, Friedrich, 278 
Frustration, 285 
Fulbright Act, 279 
Fulfillment, ultimate, 138 
Fullness of life, 168 
Function, self-governing, 142 

Functions, hierarchy of, 140 
higher, 11, 104 
highest, 140 
human, 125 
new Babel of, 185 
partition of, 185 
segregation of, 187 
the servile, 142 
Future, pull of, 108 

Gair, Robert, 202 
Galen, 51 
Galileo, 114, 202 

Gandhi, Mohandas K., 110, 210, 231, 
235, 253, 256, 263 
Garden of Eden, 63, 161 
Garden Suburb, 234 
Gargantua, 115 
Garibaldi, Giuseppe, 263 
Gauss, K. F., 24 

Geddes, Patrick, 31, 190, 194, 204, 210, 

Genealogy of Morals, The, 109 
General practitioner, dethronement of, 

Generation, mysteries of, 79 
Genocide, 12, 145, 165 
biological instruments of, 222 
Gentiles, 217 

Gentleman, the ideal of, 184 
George, Henry, 263 
Germany, 151 
Getting Married, 123 
Gladiatorial spectacles, modern, 153 
Glanvill, 134 
Goal-seeking, 31, 137 
Goals, 22 
God, 68, 163, 291 
classic concept of, 72 
definition of, 88 
a loving, 71 
manifestations of, 74 
presence of, 189 
God as the creator, 73 
God, as a new emergent, 73 
God’s intentions, 138 
Godhood, flashes of, 74 



Goebbels, 112 
Goethe, J. W., 51, 185, 256 
Golden Age, 161, 182 
Golden Mean, 146 
Goldsmith, Oliver, 233 
Goldstein, Kurt, 53, 144 
Good, 26 
definition of, 156 
purposive nature of, 138 
Good and Evil, as dramatic struggle, 160 
as polar opposites, 157 
knowledge of, 122 
Good life, conditions for, 142 
Goodness, dangers of, 167 
human, 22 
natural, 170 
nature of, 127 
re-dedication to, 173 
Goods, higher and lower, 142 
human, 140 

Goods of life, arrangement of, 142 
Goody-goodness, 155 
Gospel, the, 208 
Gospel, Marxian, 117 
Gospels, truth of all, 204 
Government, resorption of, 282 
Gradgrinds, 198 
Graham, Michael, 283 
Grand tour, a democratic version, 279 
Gratry, Augustin, 257 
Gray, Thomas, 233 
Great Good Place, The, 262-265 
Greco- Judaic world, 101 
Greeks, 182 
fifth century, 182 
Greenwich time, moral, 166 
Gregory the Great, 110, 265 
Group, 274 
face-to-face, 283 
pressures of the, 124 
return to the, 274 
self-governing, 275 
Group, Re-Union with the, 274-280 
Growth, 169 

condition for human, 184 
observation of children’s, 284 
parental, 284 

Growth (Cont.) 
purposeless, 138 
way of, 283 

Guidance, case for ethical, 163 
Guilt, 69 
burden of, 159 
sense of, 159, 170 
Gulliver, 235 
Gurdjiev, 213 
Gymnastic, 200 

H-bombs, 222 
Habits, 93, 123 
infantile, 154 
place of, 123 

Hague Conference, The, 239 
Hahnemann, S. C. F., 176, 273 
Happiness, 141 
Hardness, promotion of, 153 
as old-fashioned, 231 
Harmony, intellectual need for, 180 
Hate, 285 

•Hathaway, Katharine Butler, 200 
Hawaiian, the, 289 
Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 16, 165 
Health, 243 
and goodness, 156 
Heart of Darkness, The, 237 
Hedonism, 175 
Hell, 62 
idea of, 221 

Hellenism, Olympian, 196 

Henderson, Lawrence J., 131 

Henry, Joseph, 202 

Heraclitus, 44, 93 

Herder, J. G., 212, 233 

Heritage, social, 37 

Herzen, Alexander, 177, 262 

“Hide Yourself,” 253 

Hierarchic Functions, meaning of, 143 

Hierarchy, normal, 226 

Hierarchy, The Organic, 140-144 

Higher functions, dethronement of, 144 

Higher processes, interpretation of, 136 

Hindu, 113 

Hindu civilization, static nature of, 212 



Hindu philosophy, Schweitzer’s critique 
of, 212 

Hinduism, 64, 78, 235 
catholicity of, 109 

Historic institutions, saving weakness of, 

History, assimilation of, 260 
human, 25 
man’s life in, 27 
philosophers of, 217 
singular moments in, 231 
History and purpose, 134 
Hitler, Adolf, 19, 110-112, 149, 221, 262, 

Hollywood, 271 

Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 185 

Holy Trinity, Western culture’s, 201 

Homans, George C., 277 

Homo Faber, 40, 50 

Homo Sapiens, 40 

Horologicals and Chronometricals, 165- 

Household economy, 272 
Housman, A. E., 13 
Howard, Ebenezer, 277 
Howard, John, 212 
Human body, as approach to self, 247 
mutations of, 221 

Human behavior, physiological analysis 
of, 144 

self-determination of, 241 
Human culture, dramatic interpretation 
of, 220 

Human development, organic view of, 39 
unfathomed possibilities of, 121 
Human economy, William Morris’s in- 
sight into, 161 

Human experience, meaningfulness of, 

original ingredients of, 26 
Human goods, life as source of, 125 
Human growth, 289 
Human Nature and Society, 127 
Human needs, elaboration of, 125, 126 
Human personality, effect of, 228 
Human scale, 276 
Human values, lack of, 211 

Humanism, 108 
Humanity, renewal of, 292 
Humber, R. L., 206, 207 
Humber Resolution, 206 
Hume, David, 129 
Humility, 251 
Hundred best books, 281 
Hydrogen bomb, 172 

I-and-Thou relation, 252 
Iconoclasts, self-confident, 123 
Id, 104, 221, 222, 248 
Ideal, function of, 166 
Ideal projects, 223 
Ideal purpose, 207 

Ideal Type, The Whole Man As, 196-205 
Ideal types, 197 
Idealism, Hegelian, 225 
Pierre’s unconditional, 167 
Ideals, romantic, 234 
tribal, 18 

Ideas, de-polarization of, 216 
framework of, 22 
life-renouncing, 101 
mutation of, 240 

Ideologies, re-polarization of, 240 
Ideology, utilitarian, 28 
Ikhnaton, 74, 94 
Illiterates, moral, 154 
Illness, as source of development, 162 
Illumination, 64, 100 
intellectual, 169 
Illusion, 49 
Imbeciles, moral, 154 
Impetus, vital, 30 
Impulse, in relation to value, 129 
Incarnation, 99, 100, 228 
Incorporation, 100, 103, 228 
India, 198 

Indifference, moral, 153 
Individualism, 179 

Industrial order, limited nature of pres- 
ent, 181 
Inertia, 64 
sins of, 171 
Inferno, 61, 171 
Infinity, 59 



Inheritance, biological, 92 
Initiative, group, 275 
Injuries, 230 

Ink-blot, interpretation, 249 
Rorschach, 56 

Inner Eye and Voice^ The, 252-257 

Inner selves, 255 

Inner World,. 41 

Innerness, 264 

Innocence, world of, 161 

Innovators, 188, 256 

Inquisition, 20 

Insensitiveness, ideological, 152 
Institutions, historic, 177 
Insurgence, 30 
Integration, 207, 285, 292 
Integration and Love, 284-288 
Intellectual Man, 191 
Intelligence, 123 
Intercourse, planetary, 280 
International Congresses, 238 
Interpretation, cultural, 38 
dramatic, 218-223 
Freudian, 50 
function of, 25 
mechanistic, 35 
structure of, 54 
system of, 24 

Interpretation of Christian Ethics, 162 

Invention, 238 

Inventions, origin of, 24 

Iron lung, 141 

Irrational, 291 

Irrationality, human, 48 

Irritability, 30 

Iseult and Tristan, 288 

Ishtar, 79 

Isis, 79 

Islam, 77, 100, 114, 203 
Isolation, 239 
weakness of, 24 
Isolationism, 152 
the Kremlin’s, 232 
paranoid, 226 
Israel, 101, 139 
Ivan the Terrible, 110 

James, Henry, 262, 263 

James, Henry, Sr., 286 

James, William, 72, 88, 193, 229, 278 

Janet, Paul, 131 

Japan, 151 

Japanese, extermination of, 12 
Jean-Christophe, 209 
Jefferson, Thomas, 185 
Jennings, H. S., 122 
Jespersen, Otto, 41 

Jesus, 74, 101, 102, 106, 109, 113, 118, 
167, 189, 196, 211, 238 
imitators of, 209 
life of, 208 

Jewish history, purpose in, 139 

Jews, 12., 139 

Job, 72, 81 

John the Baptist, 119 

Julius Caesar, Shakespeare’s, 227 

Jung, C. G., 90 

Kali, 73, 87 
Kallen, Horace, 88 
Kant, Immanuel, 114, 127, 145 
Karamazov, 60 
Keller, Helen, 168 
Kepler, 114 
Kindergarten, 234, 278 
Kindness. 285 
Kingdom of God, 71, 72 
Kingdom of Heaven, 91 
Kinsey, Alfred C., 129 
Kiss, 287 

“Know thyself,” 244 
Know yourself, 251 
Knowledge, 66 
Koln, 136 
Koran, The, 204 
Korzybski, Alfred, 9, 250 
Krishma, 86 
the Archer, 68 
Kroeber, A. L., 50, 90, 250 
Kropotkin, Peter, 190, 231, 262 

Labor, specialization of, 37 
Labor-saving device, language of, 41 
Language, 44 
basic nature of, 44 



Language (Cont.) 
constant function of, 51 
development of, 41 
hum^n role of, 43 
loss of, 42 
origins of, 47 
^structure of, 42 
universal, 239, 240 
Language, Miracle of, 39-45 
Language, as vehicle of social solidarity, 

Languages, primitive, 44 
Lao-tse, 24 

Large-scale organization, 270 
Law, 149 
Laws, The, 142 
Leader, The, -worship of, 226 
magical attributes of, 98 
Leaders, inadequacy of, 120 
as victims, 15 
Leadership, burden of, 120 
totalitarian, 112 
League of Nations, 210 
Leibnitz, G. W., 38, 114 
Le Play, Frederic, 277 
Lenin, Nikolai, 110, 149, 262 
Leonardo da Vinci, 184 
Lethargy, challenge to, 119 
Letters from the Underworld, 269 
Life, 291 

anti-systematic nature of, 176 

attributes of, 177 

characteristics of, 27, 29 

deficiency of, 254 

defect of, 181 

definition of, 36 

exuberance of, 28, 34 

the good of, 130 

insecurity of, 33 

irrationalities of, 72 

irretrievability of, 267 

man’s capacity to re-present, 55 

nature of, 31 

nurture of, 286 

plan of, 30 

positive vision of, 255 

preparation for, 266 

Life (Cont.) 

radical imperfection of, 184 
rarity of, 23 
renewal of, 187, 215 
reverence for, 139 
sacredness of, 79 
tempo of, 257 
trajectory of, 156, 199 
transformation of, 122 
Life, as a dynamic system, 12 
as musical score, 266 
as purposive, 137 
as selective process, 31, 128 
Life, Background of, 27-33 
Life, The Renewed of, 288-292 
Life, The Salt of, 160-165 
Life-experience, 205 
Life-negation, Christian, 202 
Life-plan, 28, 29 
Life-sense, lack of, 172 
Life insurance corporations, 269 
Limits, throwing off of, 147 
Lippmann, Walter, 136 
Lisbon, 71 

Little Locksmith, The, 200 
Living, Time for, 257-262 
Living God, The, 213 
Locke, 128 
Logic, 257 
Logic, 44 

Logical positivism, 52 

Loki, 73 

Lollards, 235 

Looking Backward, 236 

Love, 283, 285, 286 

Love and Integration, 284-288 

Lower functions, dominance of, 141 

Loyola, Ignatius, 142, 246, 250 

Luther, Martin, 75 

Machine, age of the, 4 
challenge to the, 233 
domination of the, 223 
ideology of, 180 
Machine-herd, 15 
Machines, 243 
MacCoU, D. S., 196, 197 



Magic Mountain, The, 141 
Maitreyan Age, 10 
Maladjustment, need for, 188 
Malinowski, B., 250 
Mammals, 27 
Mammon, 233 
Man, annihilation of, 125 
appearance of, 96 
Buddhist, 199 ' 
deepest needs of, 61 
Dionysian, 196-197 
his remaking of himself, 121 
historic dimensions of, 56 
making of, 37 
maladjustment of, 54 
natural history of, 122 
nature of, 4 
origin of, 62 
potentialities of, 37 
Promethean, 203 
psychologically-adjusted, 191 
transformation of, 93, 98 
Man, as end of nature, 135 
as god, 67 
as interpreter, 56 
as his own enemy, 11 
as product of nature, 92 
Man as Interpreter, 51-57 
Man, The Mythologies of, 62-67 
Man, Nature of, 25-27 
Man’s nature, Christian view of, 63 
Man’s organic functions, 92 
Man’s world, multi-dimensionality of, 241 
Man-sheep, 95 
Manchesters, 198 
Mani, 101 
Manichees, 70, 78 
Mankind, united, 274 
Mann, Thomas, 141 
Manners, directness in, 234 
Mannheim, Karl, 190 
Manual labor, duty of, 235 
Manual worker, 28l 
Marital harmony, 286 
MarshaU Plan, 232 
Martyrs, 124 

Marx, Karl, 39, 190, 203, 262 
his materialism, 224 
Marxian communism, 179 
Marxian communist, 113 
Marxian theology, 226 
Marxism, 225 
Marxist, 152 
Mask, the divine, 65 
personal, 102 
the Universal, 94-100 
Mass man, 16 

Massachusetts, crime in, 163 
Materialism, 63 
ancient scientific, 59 
dialectical, 224 
Marxian, 225 
present-day, 62 
purposeless, 237, 273 
Roman, 110 

Matter, definition of, 24 
Matthew, 101 
Maturation, 184 
Maxwell, James Clerk, 226 
Maxwell’s doctrine, confirmation of, 228 
Mazzini, Joseph, 262 
Mead, Margaret, 250 
Mean, doctrine of the, 146 
Meaning, nature of, 53 
Meanings, subjective, 55 
Meat packers organizations, 269 
Mechanical aids, and simplicity, 272 
Mechanical order, 241 
over-valuation of, 122 
Mechanical progress, 7 
Mechanism, 32, 201 
bias of, 35 
and purpose, 132 

semantic misinterpretation of, 133 
Mechanization, 273 
Medicine, Hippocratic, 246 
Medieval church, 115 
Melville, Herman, 16, 165, 181, 185, 263 
Memory, breakdown of, 52 
Mencius, 211 
Meredith, George, 175 
Messiah, 101 
false, 111 


Messiahs, past, 119 
Metamorphosis, magic of, 27 
Methodology, post-Galilean, 202 
Michejangelo, 184 
Microcosm, man as, 78 
Middle way, pragmatic, 193 
Migrations, planetary, 278 
Militarism, 201 
Military corporations, 268 
Mill, John Stuart, 179 
Mind, religious, 61 
Ministers of grace, 246 
Minority, the despised, 217 
Miracle of personality, 97 
Missionary, 208 
medical, 209, 210 
Missionary enterprise, 192, 237 
Mithra, 79 
Mithridates, 157 
Mobility, 289 
Moby Dick, 53, 86 
Moby-Dick, 181 
Moderation, dangers of, 146 
Modern Man, myths of, 17 
Modern man, as incapable of doing 
wrong, 151 

Modern society, healthy organs of, 151 
Modern times, hell of, 172 
Modern woman, clothes of, 272 
Modernism, ethical, 164 
Mohammedan, prayers of, 259 
Mohammedism, 118 
Moliere, 24 
Moloch, 82, 233 
Moments, 169 
illumined, 170 
unpredictable, 227 
Monasteries, Benedictine, 83 
Monastic withdrawal, 262 
Money, 201 

Moral Equivalent for War, 278 
Moral error, Pierre’s, 167 
Moral greatness, Schweitzer’s, 214 
Moral ideal, 166 
l^oral judgment, 149 
Moral Hfe, 168 

Moral principles, absoluteness of, 163 

Moral relativity, as false absolute, 164 

Moral Renewal, Conditions for, 152-156 

Moral values, renewal of, 155 

Morality, main directions of, 164 

Morals, 123 

More, Thomas, 235 

Moreno, J. L., 249, 250 

Morgan, Lloyd, 162 

Morris, Charles, 196, 197 

Morris, William, 161, 190, 273 

Mosaic Judaism, 103 

Moses, 74 

Moslem warrior, 203 
Moslems, 78, 126 
Mother, as language bearer, 42 
Mo-Ti, 211 

Mountain climber, man as, 11 
Mowrer, 77 
Murray, Gilbert, 216 
Murray-Morgan Thematic Apperception 
Tests, 249, 250 

Mutants, dynamic force of, 116 
Mutation, The New, 240-243 
Mutual Aid, 8, 32, 78 
Mysteries, 60 
Mystery, cosmic, 66 
Mystic, the, 72 
Myth, Christian, 8 

Nakedness, as symbol, 182 
Nansen, 210 
Napoleon 1, 106 

Napoleon of Notting Hill, The, 134 
Nationalism, 124 
devaluation of, 209 
Natural existence, limitations of, 74 
Natural responses, blunting of, 152 
Natural Selection, 133 
Naturalism, 221 
Nature, 229 
conquest of, 5 
ends of, 131 
higher, 104 
human, 60 
man’s original, 92 
morality of, 32 
operation of, 132 


Nature (Cont.) 
plan of, 34 

as product of culture, 26 
second, 93 
socially acquired, 92 
-world of, 23 
Nature of Man, 25-27 
Nature of Personality^ 264 
Nausea, as spiritual symptom, 221 
Nazi, 152 

Nazi anthropology, 149 
Nazi Germany, 18, 239 
Nazism, 144 
Necessity, 181 
Needs, human, 125 
Needs and Values, 125-130 
Negation, processes of, 222 
Nehru, Jawaharlal, 263 
Neibuhr, Reinhold, 162, 166, 212 
Neighbor, 274 
Nerve, loss of, 216 
Neti, neti, 88 
Neutrality, 231 
New Atlantis, The, 186 
New Deal, 239 
and autarchy, 239 
New human type, 215 
New Machiavelli, The, 150 
New Man, nature of, 215 
New Orientation, 242 
New person, message of the, 105 
New personality, claims of the, 103 
New Philosophy, 226 
New religion, original intuitions of, 103 
New Self, emergence of, 97 
New species, appearance of, 98 
New Stone Age, 93 
New Testament, 86, 95, 106, 1% 

New world, foundation stones of, 210 
New World Symphony, 4 
News from Nowhere, 161 
Newton, Isaac, 202 

Nietzsche, Friedrich, 109, 140, 152, 185, 

Nihilism, 13, 269 
cult of, 150 

Nineteen Eighty-four, 125 


Nonconformity, necessity of, 124 
Non-Being, 64 
Non-conformists, 256 
Non-repeatable events, 230 
North Carolina, 206 
Northrop, F. S. C., 191 
Nose, as sense organ, 135 
Novelty, 177 
Nuclear physics, 65 

Objectivity, one-sided, 231 
Obliteration bombing, 145 
Odysseus, 198 
Oedipus, 81 
Oedipus complex, 249 
Old age, effect of, 201 
Old Stone Age, 93 
Old Testament, 196 
Olympian, 196 
Olympus, 64 
Omissions, 263 
On Being Sixty, 199 
One World, 4 
Oneida Community, 178 
O’Neill, James J., 206 
Open synthesis, philosophy of, 180 
Open systems, 183 
Operationalism, 59 
Opposition, dialectic, 30 
Ordeal of Richard Feverel, The, 175 
Order, 177 
natural, 242 
Organic balance, 182 
Organic functions, 136 
man’s, 92 

Organic hierarchy, 140 
Organic life, 27 
characteristics of, 29 
Organic need, 126 

Organic unity, Hegelian conception of, 

Organism, 189, 243 
selections of, 128 
total engagement of the, 126 
Organisms, non-specialized, 186 
Organizer, in growth, 242 
Organs of speech, 41 



Orgasms, 222 

Orientation, new, 242 

Origin, subjective, 158 

Orthodoxy, crystallized, 112 

Orwell, George, 125 

Osiris, 68, 79 

^sler, Dr William, 273 

Over-protection, psychological, 237 

Owen, Robert, 157, 245 

Pacifist, absolute, 145 

Paine, Thomas, 212 

Palestine, Jewish return to, 139 

Paley, Archdeacon, 133 

Palingenesis, 116 

Panza, Sancho, 194 

Parenthood, first lessons of, 152 

Paris Exposition, 238 

Parmenides, 44 

Party of order, 177 

Party of progress, 177 

Pascal, Blaise, 65, 202 

Pass-word, language as, 43 

Passiveness, Wordsworth’s wise, 259 

Past, drag of, 108 

Pathology, The Optimism of, 216-223 
Paths of Life, The, 196 
Pattern, 241 
underlying, 65 
Pattern of life, 175 
change in, 20 

Pattern, overall, of culture, 220 
Paul of Tarsus, 101, 183, 245 
Pauline Epistles, 106 
Pause, creative, 258 
Peace, price of, 274 
Peguy, Charles, 253 
Peirce, Charles, 286 
‘‘Perennial Philosophy,” 72 
Perfect yourself, 251 
Perfection, danger of, 161 
Perfectionism, egoistic, totalitarian per- 
version of, 236 
Person, 24 
appearance of, 95 
awakened, 291 
birth of the, 94 

Person (Cont.) 
components of, 242 
concept of the, 241 
development of the, 22 
displacement of the, 230 
growth of the, 124 
illumined, 99 

pre-rational characteristics of, 248 
primacy of the, 243 
recovery of initiative for, 273 
role of, 230 

Person, as an emergent, 190 
Person, as emergent from group, 124 
Person, Birth of the, 92-94 
Personal, Bias Against the, 107-112 
Personal transformation, resistance to, 

Personality, 243, autonomous activities 
of, 14 

balanced, 276 
category of, 229 

as an emergent from community, 201 
exclusion of, 242 
the human, 33 
ideal dimensions of, 203 
its operation in history, 232 
major operations of, 228 
miracle of, 97 
new, 102, 288 
projection of, 229 
realm of, 33 
three phases of, 197 
transmutation of, 119 
universal aspects of, 204 
Personality and property, 143 
Personality types, 193 
Personality-images, 191 
Personalities, awakened, 291 
Persons, constitution of, 200 
Persons, as things, 224 
Peruvians, 182 
Petrarch, 114 
Petrie, Flinders, 210 
Pharisee, 167 
Pharaoh, as person, 80 
Philanderers, The, 123 
Philosophers, Greek, 22, 170 



Philosophy, new, 8 

Philosophy, Schweitzer’s criticism of, 213 
Philosophy of the whole, 180 
Physical magnitudes, importance of 
small, 228 
Physical need, 126 

Physical world, scientific description of, 

Physicist, as Ethan Brand, 17 
Physics, nuclear, 90 
Physiology, 192 

Picnic, romantic popularization of, 234 

Pierre, 165, 254 

Pilgrim, 196, 199 

Plan, rigidity of, 136 

Plan of life, 255 

Planet, conquest of the, 238 

Planning, diurnal, 264 

Plans, 223 

Plato, 22, 44, 59, 63, 142, 146, 183, 244, 

Plato’s Republic, 149 
Play, 284 

Playfulness, 35, 234 
Plotinus Plinlimmon, 165 
Po Chii-i, 199 
Poet, unreality of, 96 
Poincare, Henri, 49 
Polar opposites, 157 
Polarizing element, 241 
Poles, as Nazi victims, 153 
Polybius, 9 
Polynesia, 233 
Pontius Pilate, 232 
Poor Richard, 257 
Possibilities, Canvass of, 5-11 
Postulates of Synthesis, 22-25 
Potidaea, 154 

Power, as Promethean aim, 203 
sign of, 13 

substitution for goodness, 144 
Powers, human, 7 
Poverty, world, 236 
Pragmatists, 188 
error of, 124 

Prayer, Jesus’s injunctions about, 103 
Predictability, 230 

Premise, unexamined, 159 
Present, determination of, by future, 133 
Pressure of time, external, 261 
Pride, 69, 245 
Primitive, behavior of, 42 
Primitivism, mythical, 233 
Prince Hal, 194 
Prison, as cloister, 263 
Probability, 28 
Problems, insoluble, 87 
Problems of Christianity, The, 116 
Process, unifying, 23 
Processes, mental and moral, 35 
upbuilding, 151 
Production, quantitative, 146 
Productiveness, decrease in, 192 
Productivity, Western, 114 
Professionalism, Athenian attitude 
toward, 142 
Progress, 121 
inertia of, 21 
mechanical, 7 
Proletariat, 217 
Prologue, the unspoken, 25 
Prometheans, 202, 203 
Prometheus, 64, 198 
Promises, 6 

Property, importance of, 143 
Prophet, appearance of, 97 
direct effect of, 102 
Prospero, 42 
Protestantism, 233 
Psyche, 49, 76 
Psychiatrists and evil, 158 
Psychic material, 49 
Psychoanalysis, 248 
Psychodiagnostics, 249 
limits of, 250 
Psychodrama, 51 
Psychokinesis, 51 
Psychological overcrowding, 16 
Psychologist, Loyola as, 246 
Psychologists, 223 
Psychology, 40 
analytical, 249 

Psychopathic tendencies, extent of, 154 
Public education, free, 178 



Public work, 278 
Purpose, 28, 241 
aristocratic, 140 
cospic, 131 
evidence of, 131 
modifications of, 137 
transformation of, by medium, 135 
Purpose, The Case for, 130-134 
Purposeful goals, 241 
Purposeless growth, 138 
Purposelessness, 221 
Purposes, change in, 22 
theory of, 131 
Pyramids, 119 
Pythagoras, 59 

Quakers, 235, 273 
Qualitative discrimination, 145, 147 
Quantitative control, 147 
Quantitative discrimination, 145 
Quantitative productivity, 192 
Quantitative restrictions, 189 
Quantity f The Control of, 144-147 
Questions, Use of Unanswerable, 58-62 

Rabelais, Frangois, 114, 115 
Radical imperfection of life, 184 
Radicalism, 179 
Radicals, 177 
Ramakrishna, 204 
Rasmussen, K. J. V., 93 
Rational development, 50 
Rationalism, over-confidence in, 246 
Rationalists, eighteenth century, 89 
Reading blocks, 129 
Re-affirmation and Repentance, 170-174 
Realize yourself, 251 
Reason and custom, 245 
Rebirth, 103, 116 
pain of, 174 
Reckoning, day of, 267 
Rediscovery of America, The, 15 
Reflection, 265 
Reflexes, animal, 11 
Regime, Soviet Russian, 177 
Regression, political, 239 
Regularity, 230 

Rejection, 252 
of life, 221 

Relativism, dangers of, 165 
Relativity, ethical, 163 
Religion, 58, 89 
Bahai, 117 
and civilization, 212 
classic missions of, 81 
degradation of, 75 
offices of, 218 
Olympian, 114 
purposes of, 59 
realm of, 57 

Religion, as “sphere of the possible,” 67 
Religion, as sphere of sacred, 87 
Religion, Next Development of, 112-118 
Religion, Positive Functions of, 86-91 
Religions, classic, 92, 203 
Religions, historic, 235 
mission of the, 234 
Religions, and phases of life, 200 
re-orientation of, 205 
Religious attitudes, fundamental, 196 
Religious consciousness, 59 
Religious transformation, 98 
Renan, Ernest, 109 
Renascence, 184 
Renewal, 4, 66, 207, 232 
of life, 187, 215 
process of, 33 
road of, 21 
Renoir, Auguste, 199 
Renunciations, heroic, 105 
Reorientation, 4 
inner, 94 

Repentance, 173, 184, 251 
Repentance and Re-affirmation, 170-174 
Repetition, defiance of, 234 
escape from cycle of, 162 
Repetitions, cultural, 220 
Repetitive pattern, 93 
Repetitive processes, 241 
Reproduction, 66 
Republic, The, 121, 183 
Republican party, 207 
Responses, erotic, 27 



Responsibility, assumption of, 290 
avoidance of moral, 171 
Responsiveness, organic, 30 
Restraint, inner, 143 

Revolution, materialistic conceptions of, 

Rewards, human, 96 

Rhine, Hr. J. B., 51 

Rhythmic alteration, need for, 189 

Riesman, David, 256 

Right and wrong, 122 

Roberts, Morley, 34 

Rockets, 6 

Roles, assumption of, 98 
Roman Catholic Church, stabilization of 

Roman imperialism, resurgence of, 110 
Roman imperium, 219 
Romanticism, 226, 233 
contributions of, 234 
weakness of, 179 
Rorschach, 56, 249, 250 
Rousseau, Jean Jacques, 212, 233, 272 
Routine, disruption of, 234 
need for breaks in, 258 
Routines, compulsive, 258 
Rowntree, Seebohm, 281 
Royce, Josiah, 116 
Ruskin, John, 190, 273 
Ruskin’s works, 281 
Russell, Bertrand, 63 
Russia, 151, 177 
Russian communism, 203 
Russian Czarism, 19 

Sabbath, 258 
Sacred, sphere of the, 87 
Sacrifice, 83, 214 
acceptance of, 156 
function of, 85 
typical act of, 209 
Sacrifice and Detachment, 82>B6 
Sacro Egoismo, 125 
Safety, factor of, 34 
St. John, 286 
Saints, 124 

Salvation, by simplification, 271 
one dimensional, 222 
Sancho Panza, 194 
Sanity, 243 

Sanskrit, translation of, 10 
Satan, 73 

Saul of Tarsus, 252 
Saviour Emperor, 112 
School, mark of new, 263 
Schopenhauer, 84 
Schweitzer, Albert, 207, 208, 253 
as musicologist, 209 
as medical missionary, 209 
as theologian, 208 
meaning of his life, 214 
Science, causal interpretation of, 87 
newer insights of, 24 
post-Newtonian, 225 
principles of, 229 
Sciences, limitations of, 58 
the physical, 242 
Scientists, pure, 205 
Scott, Walter, 233 
Second birth, 96 
Second-living, 268 

Second World War, 130, 156, 232, 259, 


Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The. 46 
Security, 181, 236 
Segregation, 239 
Seidenberg, Roderick, 231 
Selection, 139 
Selectivity, 143 
Self, biological, 54 
Loyola’s, 246 
mirrors of the, 249 
new kind of, 93 
rationalist analysis of the, 246 
re-building of the, 274 
a super-organic, 39 
tribal, 8, 95 
Self-abdication, 264 
Self-direction, 94, 143 
Self-discipline, 189 
Self-examination, 253, 268 
Self-fabrication, 5, 39 
Self-government, 143 



Self-inquisition, 251 
Self-knowledge, 244, 245 
achievement of, 250 
as i>asis ior education, 250 
way to, 245 
Self-love, 8, 244 
§!elf-respect, primitive, 15 
Self-righteousness, 251 
Self-transformation, 102 
Selves, natural, 221 
Sen, Keshab Chandra, 117 
Sensation, nature of, 40 
Sense data, 26 
Sensibility, 123 
Sensitiveness, need for, 152 
Sequences, organic, 28 
Sermon on the Mount, 238 
Service, universal, 274 
Sex, 283-4 

SeXf Eternity, and Death, 76-82 
Sexual intercourse, 258 
Sexual relations, communism in, 178 
Sexuality, religious, 79 
Shaftesbury, 164 
Shakespeare, 114, 186, 246 
Shaw, George Bernard, 123, 195 
Sheldon, W. H., 15, 193, 196, 197, 249 
Signals, 41 

Significance, loss of, 14 
Signs, 41 
Silence, 264 
Simplicity, 272 
benign, 270 
conceptual, 26 

Simplification, effective kinds of, 272 
modes of, 271 
for salvation, 271 

Simplifiers, The Terrible, 268, 270 
Sin, 184 

avoidance of word, 170 
involvement in, 172 
nature of, 172 
Singular moments, 231, 241 
Singular Points, 226-232 
Sins of inertia, 171 
Sisterhood, mark of new, 271 
Sixth Century b.c., 10 

Sleep, 46 

Sleepwalkers, The, 205 
Slow-down, 258 
Social breakdown, 149 
Social change, by irradiation, 228' 
scientific description of, 228 
Social compulsion, 179 
Social phenomena, natqre of, 12 
Social transformation, 105 
difficulty of, 119 
Socialism, 22, 226, 236 
possible weaknesses of, 237 
Socialists, 223 
Society, defiance of, 148 
renewal of, 22, 274 
renovation of, 235 
Society of Friends, 235 
Sociologists, 223 
Socrates, 80, 154, 244, 245 
Soderblom, Archbishop, 213 
Soldiers, transformation into, 98 
Solidarity, 179 
Solitude, 257 
Song of Myself, 248 
Sophocles, 182 

SoTcerePs Apprentice, The, 147 
Sorel, Julien, 106 
Sorokin, P., 217, 250 
Soul, rational, 25 
South Africa, 239 
Soviet communism, 19 
Soviet rulers, identity with D*A.R., 210 
Soviet Russia, 19, 172, 225, 239 
Space, exploration of, 7 
Specialism, 10 
defects of, 186 

Specialisms, encyclopedic massings of, 

Specialists, 181 
Specialization, 185 
over-, 37 
Speech, 40, 53 
invention of, 45 
playfulness of, 42 
Speed, god of, 82 
Speed-up, 259 

Snencer. Herbert* 36* 82. TOO 


Spengler, Oswald, 149, 211, 217 
Spinoza, Benedict de, 114, 131 
Spirit, defilement of, 221 
Spiritual Exercises, 247 
Spiritual Man, 191 
Spontaneity, 234 
Stabilities, 227 
Stability, 177 , 

Stabilization, 19 

Stalin, Joseph, 19, 110, 111, 112, 262 
deification of, 225 
totalitarianism of, 225 
Stalinist science, 149 
Standardization, 237 
Standards, lowering of, 272 
Standards of civilization, universal, 164 
Stanford University, 264 
Star-gazers, Chaldean, 55 
Steiner, Rudolph, 213 
Stimson, Henry L., 171 
Stimuli, need for interpreting, 40 
Stoic boast, 189 
Stoicism, 63 
Struggle, cultural, 220 
“Struggle for existence,” 46 
Darwin’s, 203 
Student migrations, 278 
Study of History, A, 100 
Subjective reactions, 43 
Suicide, taboo against, 84 
Summa Theologia, 20 
Sun-power, 9 
Sung Dynasty, 220 
Super-ego, 248 
acceptance of, 152 
Super-normal powers, 98 
Superfluous, Economy of the, 34-36 
Superman, 152 
Survey of York, 281 
Survival, man’s biological, 66 
values for, 20 

Survival and life-needs, 141 
Survivals, 116 
Symbiosis, 32 

Symbol-making activities, 53 
Symbolic expression, 126 

3^9 ‘ 

Symbolic functions, 51 
loss of, 52 

Symbolic interpretation, 39 
Symbolic reference, 53 
Symbolism, 45 
Symbolization, 44 
tools of, 40 
Symbols, 53, 55 
Symposium, The, 154 
Syncretism, An Organic, 232-235 
Synthesis, 25, 223, 226 
Synthesis, Postulates of, 22-25 
System, teleological, 137 
of interpretation, 24 
System-makers, 176 
System-mongers, 178 
Systems, as conceptual tool, 178 
ethical, 175 
exclusive, 177 
skepticism of, 180 
Systems, The Fallacy of, 175-180 

Taoism, 234 

Taboos, life-preservative, 148 
Teething, 162 
Teleology, nature of, 137 
Temperaments, the four, 193 
Temperaments and Types, 192-196 
Temperance, physical, 188 
Tempo, 257, 262 

slowing down of, 261 
Tenderness, need for, 152 
Teniers, 273 
Tension, use of, 190 
Terrible SimpBfiers, The, 268, 270 
Terrorism, 150 
Tertullian, 83 

Thematic Apperception Tests, 249 
Theognis, 146 

Theologian, Schweitzer as, 208 
Theological liberalism, 81 
Theology, Christian, 172 
Marxian, 226 
naive conceits of, 61 
Theosophist, 113 
Therapeutae, 101, 206 
Therapy, psychoanalytic, 268 


hermo-dyiiamics, second law of, 73 
'hings, as persons, 224 
'hinking, contrapuntal, 260, 261 
polyp J^onic, 260 
specialized, 260 
'homas Aquinas, 20, 156 
'horeau, Henry David, 76, 110, 185, 253, 
254, 270, 272, 289 
'horndyke, Edward L., 127 
^'hought, disciplined, 49 
^'hrasymachus, 149 
?hurber, James, 45 
Time, balance in, 187 
religious cycle of, 78 
subjective, 261 

rime of Troubles, 97, 101, 105, 130, 173 
Schweitzer’s diagnosis of, 211 
Time-obsession, 258 
Time-saving, 136, 260 
Timeless, orientation to the, 78 
rimes, Diagnosis of Our, 11-18 
Tintoretto, 114, 273 
Titan, 196, 199 
Tobacco land, 271 
Tocqueville, Alexis de, 236 
Tokyo, 12 

Tolman, Edward C,, 191 
Tolstoy, Leo, 110, 201, 254, 264, 282 
Tolstoyan principles, 235 
Tongues, gift of, 42 
Torture, 150 
engines of, 115 
pseudo-scientific, 231 
Totalitarians, 188 
error of, 124 

Toynbee, Arnold J., 94, 97, 100, 113, 114, 
217, 250, 263 
Trace elements, 230 

Traditional religions, vital impulses of, 

Transcendence, 5, 76, 169 
Transformation, human, 97 
organic, 29 
personal, 104 
religious, 98 
Transition period, 288 
Transitional era, problems of, 261 

Traumas, 230 
Trial and error, 184 
Tribal norms, 104 
Tribal society, passage from, 123 
Tribalism, 124 
Tristan, 76, 288 
Truth, canons of, 24 
Two Lives, The Need /or,^ 265-268 
Two Sources of Morality and Religion, 93 
Types, the activist, 202 
domination of cerebral in India and 
China, 198 
ideal, 197 

temperamental, 193 
theory of, 195 

Types and Temperaments, 192-196 
Tyranny, Czarist, 104 

Ubangi, 182 
Ulm, 136 

Ultimate goals, life’s, 134 
Ultimate questions, 61 
Ulysses, 15 

Unanswerable questions, rejection of, 59 
Unconscious, the, 49, 248 
primitive elements in, 14 
Understanding as creation, 68 
UNESCO, 150 
Unfriendliness, 26 
Uniformity, 237 
United Nations, 172, 206 
United Nations Flag, 207 
United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation 
Administration, 206 
United States, frontier tradition, 281 
Unity, 113, 226 
need for, 223 

planetary, before 1914, 150 
worldwide, 240 

Universal Church, Caesarean organiza- 
tion of, 235 

Universal community, 117 
Universal language, 238 
Universal man, appearance of, 107 
Universal principles, 164 
Universal religions, failure of, 195 



Universalism, 237 
abortive, 240 
political, 239 
technical, 238, 239 

Universalism and Eutopianism, 235-240 
Universality, 193 
Universe, depersonalized, 55 
man as the 'Center ci, 91 
transformatio*ir7rf, 69 
University, mark of new, 263 
Unknowable, the, 60 
Unpredictable, the, 291 
UNRRA, 8, 206, 232 
Useless instrument, man’s possession of, 

USSR, 225 
Utopia (1516), 235 

Value, gauge of, 82 
judgments of, 122 
Values, definition of, 127 
established, 127 
as life-furthering, 128 
place of, 122 

Schweitzer’s transvaluation of, 213 
traditional, 123 
Values and Needs, 125-130 
Van Gogh, Vincent, 209, 253 
Variation, 177 
Variations, internal, 30 
Variety, 242 

Verbalization, misuse of, 52 
Vesalius, 114 
Vico, G. B., 68, 221, 233 
.YTCtorian couples, fecund, 124 
Victory by extermination, 148 
Vigilance, 154 
Villon, FranQois, 115 
Violence, sins of, 171 
Virgin Mary, 79, 103 
Virtue, desert island, 155 
dramatic, 99 
Virtues, theological, 82 
Vital lies, 65 
Vitality, 9 

animal, lessening of, 198 
reserve, 9 

Vivekananda, 210 
Vocation of Man, 95 
Voltaire, 70 

Wakefulness, 123, 154 
Waking Consciousness, 46 
Wallas, Graham, 162 
War, breakdown through, 13 
as the father of change, 93 
as perversion, 129 
Warehouse corporation, 206 
Waste Land, The, 116 
Way of life, Athenian, 167 
promethean, 200 
universal, 99 
We-ness, 43 
Webster, Daniel, 163 
WeUs, H. G., 5, 17, 191, 150 
West, creativeness of the, 114 
Western Churches, 177 
Western civilization, 13, 223, 268, 288 
breakdown of, 150 
crucial transformation of, 231 
fresh elements in, 112 
the real goods of, 237 
universalism of, 238 
Western man, 26 
Weston, Harold, 206 
Wheeler, William Morton, 73 
Whirligig of time, William James’s, 229 
White man’s burden, 239 
White Whale, The, 17 
Whitehead, A. N., 190 
Whitman, Walt, 54, 102, 105, 185, 190, 
248, 292 

Whole, orientation to the, 79 
philosophy of the, 180, 224 
sense of the, 216 
Whole, Doctrine of the, 223-226 
Whole Man, 182 

Whole Man, The, as Ideal Type, 196-205 
Wholeness, 192 
religious sense of, 90 
Whyte, Lancelot L., 73, 180 
Will to Believe, The, 229 
Wilson, Woodrow, 231 
Wisdom, suppleness of, 146 



of the Body) The, 32 
Witlwii'^wals 252, 253, 262 
discipline of, 264 
Womaj^, balanced, 288 

modern, physical freedom of, 272 
role of, in Greece, 183 
Word, the, 223 
Words, formal qualities of, 44 
Wordsworth, William, 259 
Work, compulsive, 259 
Work Corps, International, 280 
Work-chains, 32 
World, the, 40 
end of the, 18 
impersonal, 229 
post-medieval, 229 
purposeful, 131 
the symbolic, 48 
World Constitution, 280 
World Federalists, 223 
World Federation, 207 

World fellowship, 279 
World Government, 206, 274 
failure to create, 239 
World organization, foundations for, -240 
World views, need to universalize, -205 
Worldly Wisemen, 3 
Writing, as illustrative of purpose, 136 
Wrong and rightivl22 

Xantippe, 245 

Yeats, John Butler, 46, 141 
Yeats, William Butler, Autobiography of, 

Yogin, 190 
Yucca plant, 133 

Zamiatin, E., 125 
Zarathustra, 74 
Zoroastrians, 78 
Zossima, Father, 60, 268